While authorities continue to investigate the role of arson in last week’s massive fires, two Arab arsonists were captured as they set fires next to the Atarot industrial zone in northern Yerushalayim on Tuesday, Arutz Sheva reported.
Border Police officers at an observation post spotted the fires at an early stage and quickly dispatched units to the scene to arrest the terrorists. They were captured after a brief chase.
The suspects, both 16-year old residents of Yerushalayim, were carrying cigarette lighters and papers for kindling. The arsonists were transferred to the central police station in the capital for interrogation.
On Sunday, Israeli police said 37 people had been arrested in connection with the fires, though no convictions have yet been obtained, and numerous requests for compensation from the Finance Ministry await determination of the causes of the various fires.
Meanwhile, one of the biggest fires—in Nataf near Yerushalayim—was confirmed by investigators as the result of arson.
In that attack, a local restaurant was burned down and residents were forced to evacuate. Inspectors say it was apparently sparked by a firebomb.
“The fire began next to the fence of the [Arab] village of Katane, apparently as a result of a Molotov cocktail from the village towards the wooded area,” said local fire department chief Moshe Eliezeri.
Due to the dry weather conditions and strong winds, Eliezeri said, the fire quickly spread towards the nearby Jewish communities of Maaleh HaHamisha, Mevo Horon, and Nataf.
“Within a short time,” he continued, “the fire reached the outskirts of Nataf, skipping through the valley and surrounding the town from the west and east, and along the way burning nature reserves and planted forests, as well as the building housing the restaurant in Nataf.”