Putting out fire in Ein Hod village
Photo: Moran Yona
Police face arson wave
Arsonists aiming to distract forces battling massive blaze, police officials say; alert level raised

Dozens of blazes were reported across Israel Friday, on top of the massive forest fire still raging in northern Israel, as the police raised its alert level nationwide.


Police officials suspect that many of the latest blazes were set by arsonists.


Police sources estimated that the culprits are taking advantage of the situation in the north and are attempting to distract forces dealing with the massive fire by producing additional emergency events.


Security forces in southern Israel reported several small fires, and firefighters put out two other blazes near the garbage dump next to Tayibe in central Israel. Many other fires were reported in various sites in the north. A bicycle and a wig were found next to a fire that broke out in the town of Kiryat Bialik in the Haifa District, reinforcing suspicions of arson.


A few blazes originating simultaneously in different sites west of the northern town of Shfar'am also appeared intentional. Arson was investigated in the case of a brushfire that was set between the Mashad and Ilut villages.


Police Commissioner Dudi Cohen instructed police commanders to send officers to areas where fires break out and monitor suspicious individuals.


Two residents of the Druze town of Daliyat al-Karmel, both in their 30s, who threw a bottle in the Mount Carmel area were arrested for allegedly attempting to start a fire. Police officials later said no wrongdoing had been established with certainty.


Cohen said that the Carmel forest fire originated in one site, but noted that it is unclear whether it was caused by arson or negligence. He said that an assessment on the matter is to be presented by Saturday morning.



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