Domenica, 04 Dicembre, 2016

In big fires across Israel, 12 arrested as suspects

Footage of a fire in the mountainous village of Beit Meir west of Jerusalem Footage of a fire in the mountainous village of Beit Meir west of Jerusalem
Rufina Vignone | 02 Dicembre, 2016, 13:07

On the ground, Palestinian firefighters on Thursday night joined the Israelis, sending four fire engines to the northern city of Haifa and four more to the village of Beit Meir, near Jerusalem.

Firefighting planes have arrived from Russia, Turkey, Greece, France, Spain, and Canada and continue to battle the fires at affected locations, including the village of Nataf near Jerusalem al-Quds. The Boeing 747 Supertanker is considered the largest firefighter aircraft in the world.

Some hardline ministers have accused Arab nationalists of being behind the arson and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has blamed ' terror'.

The rare talk between Israeli and Palestinian leaders came as a string of massive fires have been raging for five days in Israel and its neighbors including the West Bank, Egypt and Lebanon. Three of them, a military spokeswoman said, had been caught with two bottles of gasoline, an empty gasoline bottle, gloves and lighters in their possession.

"It's a miracle that people weren't burned alive, but we must not rely exclusively on miracles", he said, in reference to allegations the fires raging across Israel were started by Palestinians. The country's leaders claim Arab attackers are behind them, with some calling it a continuation of a year-long campaign of Palestinian stabbing attacks against Israelis.

Dry conditions after a two-month drought, in addition to strong winds, have fuelled the fires, which have also spread to other parts of the country.

Meanwhile, the Joint List - the Israeli parliament coalition representing Palestinian citizens of Israel - and the Fatah movement of the occupied West Bank condemned Palestinians who have celebrated the fires for revenge over the adhan controversy, while Palestinian civil defense crews have provided reinforcement in order to assist Israel in controlling the fires in Haifa and Jerusalem. Some 80,000 people were briefly evacuated from some neighborhoods of Haifa but they were allowed to return to their homes Friday. On a trip to Halamish in the West Bank, he said Israel could respond by building more settlements. People started saying that he didn't prepare the Israeli fire forces and prepare what was needed to fight the fires.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said a dozen people had been detained across the country either while attempting to set fires or while fleeing the area, but he provided no further details.

The blazes scorching northern Israel began Tuesday in the northern community of Zichron Ya'akov, about 35 kilometers (22 miles) north of Haifa.

In a statement on Sunday, police said they suspect that some 30-40 of the 90 fires that have swept the country in the past six days were started by arsonists, according to Hebrew media reports. There, dozens of residents were forced to flee their homes and several houses were destroyed.

Israel's chief of police said on Thursday people may have chose to start fires after seeing the trouble they were causing. City officials said the situation was under control but that at least 700 homes had been badly damaged or destroyed.

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