Wave of arson attacks hits south Jerusalem (JERUSALEM POST) By MELANIE LIDMAN 06/17/12)
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A rash of suspected arson attacks in open areas around southeast
Jerusalem has firefighters scrambling to find a way to stop the
fires, believed to have been set by area youths.
In the month of May, firefighters dealt with 1,759 blazes in open
areas around that part of the capital, according to Jerusalem Fire
and Rescue Services spokesman Asaf Abras. Considering that the
Jerusalem district usually deals with about 8,000 such events during
the entire year, the number is staggering.
Abras said firefighters had opened 200 investigations into suspected
cases of arson since May, and in half of the cases were able to
positively identify the source of the fire as having been arson.
Sometimes multiple fires are considered part of the same
Most of the blazes are around the Arnona, Armon Hanatziv, Jebl
Mukaber and Sur Bahir neighborhoods. Abras said the fires were so
frequent that firefighters often were called back to the same area
less than 15 minutes later to deal with another outbreak.
Two suspects aged 14 and 15 were arrested last week in connection
with the fires, but since then Abras noted that the blazes had not
stopped, leading investigators to believe there could be a large
Each fire costs thousands of shekels in manpower and equipment, even
small outbreaks. According to Abras, a firefighting crew uses at
least 3,000 liters of water for a small fire. Sometimes, multiple
crews are called to battle forest fires, which can rapidly grow and
rage out of control.
Last summer, firefighters dealt with an epidemic of arson in the
haredi community, with groups of young boys repeatedly setting fires
in open areas. They would watch the firefighters battle the blaze and
then taunt them, saying they’d be called back to the same place in
less than an hour.
Firefighters initiated a number of meetings with community leaders
and rabbis, and made presentations at yeshivot and schools. Abras
said they received “full cooperation and support” from the rabbis.
This year there has been an 80% decrease in suspected arson in haredi
The spokesman noted that because this year’s arson attacks seemed to
be coming from non-haredi or Arab neighborhoods, he was not sure if
meetings with community leaders would produce such effective results.
He also encouraged people who live in areas near open fields or
abandoned lots to make sure that the spaces around their homes were
maintained and cleared of dead plants and other debris to prevent
fires from jumping from forests to their neighborhoods. (© 1995-2011,
The Jerusalem Post 06/17/12)
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