Photo: Yoav Zitun
Destroyed Haifa home
Photo: Yoav Zitun

Arson suspected in third of past week's fires

Two of the 23 persons currently under arrest have confessed, according to a report presented to the cabinet; which of the suspected arson attacks were motivated by nationalistic considerations is not yet known.

A source in the Israel Police said on Sunday night that the approximately 90 fires that have blazed across the country in the past week were believed to be caused by arson.



He specified to Ynet that "between 30–40 incidents contain suspicion of arson. That doesn't mean that there are suspects, rather indications, but in total there are 23 detainees at varying levels of suspicion."


He said that it was not yet possible to determine which arson-initiated conflagrations, if any, had nationalistic motives: "We're just saying where there's a suspicion of arson and where there isn't. Even when we say (that), we're qualifying it because we haven't completed the investigations, and it wouldn't be very responsible.


Fire in Haifa (Photo: AFP) (Photo: AFP)
Fire in Haifa (Photo: AFP)


In some cases, he explained, "the results were caused by prosaic reasons—weather or an electrical short—but a significant portion of the incidents—arson. The intelligence network is analyzing and feeding us information, some of which is relevant. We're using finger prints, sophisticated investigative methods and more."


Arson attempt caught on security camera

Arson attempt caught on security camera


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The source explained that the arsons did not appear to be part of a guided, concentrated effort: "What we're identifying is people's activity at a local level. The people who carry out the act aren't (operating on instructions) from some guiding hand, but for the sake of checking for the guiding hand, we've set up the investigation team."


A Palestinian suspect of arson (Photo: Ziv Birman of the Nature and Parks Authority) (Photo: Ziv Birman of the Nature and Parks Authority)
A Palestinian suspect of arson (Photo: Ziv Birman of the Nature and Parks Authority)


Evidence that the blaze in Haifa was caused by arson has not yet been found, but sources in the investigation are not yet ready to rule out the possibility. Following the large fire, which affected 13 neighborhoods, four locations were identified as where the conflagrations broke out: in Romema, the Carmel Center, Ramot Eshkol and Ramat Hen. Five persons were detained and investigated, but they were all released after the investigation revealed that the suspects had no connection to Haifa's fires.


The police are operating to locate and arrest suspects across the country. Two of those detained, according to the report the Israel Police presented to the cabinet, confessed to committing arson. In addition, five persons—three Jews and two Arabs—have been arrested for online incitement. One, Yair Grinshpan, was arrested on Sunday for encouraging others on Facebook to burn Arab villages. He was granted conditional release.


In addition to the above arrests, Sunday afternoon, detectives apprehended six 17 year olds from Jadeidi-Makr, east of Acre, who were found driving away from a brushfire outside the city. The fire was extinguished by firefighting aircraft before it could spread, and the suspects were taken for questioning.


פרסום ראשון: 11.27.16, 21:30
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