Firefighters on Tuesday succeeded in bringing several fires in Motza
area of Jerusalem under control.
Fire and Rescue Services Commissioner Shahar Ayalon postulated that
the massive blaze could have broken out due to arson.
"A fire doesn´t start itself," he said. "This was either caused by
negligence or was lit intentionally."
Police closed the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Highway (Highway 1) in both
directions and reopened it two hours later. Some residents in the
Motza area were evacuated. Four people suffered mild smoke inhalation
According the Fire Department, 35 firefighting teams were trying to
contain the flames. Six IAF planes assisted in their efforts.
Ayalon said, despite the blaze being under control, it would
nevertheless noted that it would take a while to extinguish the
Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch arrived at a command
center set up at the Givat Shaul cemetery. He told reporters there
was no indication for arson, but added the fire will be investigated
by the police and Fire Services.
On Sunday Jerusalem firefighters extinguished no fewer than 15 fires
that broke out in the city.
Jerusalem fire chief Capt. Shmulik Friedman told reporters on Sunday
that investigators believes most of those fires were the result of
Jerusalem District fire chief Eli Peretz told Israel Radio that it
was too soon to tell if arson was the cause of the fires.
Seven people have been arrested in the past month for allegedly
lighting fires in open areas.