Though the fire has already burned thousands of dunams and has yet to be controlled, the blaze has not endangered the nearby communities of Gshur, Givat Yoav or Bnei Yehuda.
By Eli Ashkenazi and Nir Hasson | Jun.02, 2013

Arson is suspected in a spate of fires that broke out Saturday on the western slopes of the Golan Heights and in a Jerusalem neighborhood. The fire that started Saturday afternoon in the Golan has caused heavy damage to grazing land and nature reserves, and had not been brought under control by press time.

According to Alon Levy, district director of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, thousands of dunams have been burned, including large parts of nature reserves. Levy said arson is suspected in the blaze, which started at two points: the Samakh Stream and Mount Susita, overlooking Kibbutz Ein Gev. The police closed the road for some time between Kursi junction and Moshav Givat Yoav due to the heavy smoke.

Ten fire trucks and five firefighting planes took part in the efforts to bring the fire under control. The planes could not continue their work after dark. Natan Ben-Shimol, the spokesman for the northern district firefighting services, said the blaze was not endangering the nearby communities of Gshur, Givat Yoav or Bnei Yehuda. Dozens of nature and parks authority workers, ranchers and farmers also joined the efforts.

Another fire broke out Saturday afternoon in a pit on the outskirts of the Galilee panhandle city of Kiryat Shmona, and spread to the roofs of nearby homes, necessitating the evacuation of some residents from their homes on Eilat Street, which was engulfed in smoke.

Meanwhile, a wave of arson attacks struck a Jerusalem neighborhood Saturday. Fires were started at approximately 10 different places in and around the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood on the eastern part of the capital. Firefighters said the fires had apparently been started by a lone arsonist wherever he saw an opportunity.

The first fire was spotted in the garden of a private home on David Raziel, followed by a second in an open area on the same street, and a third in a pile of prunings. Another fire was reported near a school in a field of thistles, which damaged a parked car.

Firefighters said most of the fires did not cause significant damage. By the afternoon, firefighters had been called to nine locations, when yet another fire broke out − this time at the Jerusalem Peace Forest adjacent to Armon Hanatziv, where arson is also suspected.

Last month there were no fewer than 15 reported arson attempts in the Jerusalem Peace Forest. The police have launched an investigation.