Molotov cocktails said to spark blaze near Jerusalem neighborhood

Firefighters reportedly targeted with another firebomb as they try to extinguish flames in wooded area alongside Pisgat Zeev; no injuries or damage reported

Illustrative. Firefighters try to extinguish a forest fire near Kibbutz Harel, on May 23, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Illustrative. Firefighters try to extinguish a forest fire near Kibbutz Harel, on May 23, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Fires broke out Sunday evening in a wooded area between the Jewish neighborhood of Pisgat Zeev and the Shuafat Palestinian refugee camp in East Jerusalem, Israel Police said in a statement.

Hebrew media reported that the fires, in a valley alongside Eliyahu Meridor Street, were caused by Molotov cocktails.

An additional Molotov cocktail was thrown at firefighters as they battled to prevent the flames, the Kan public broadcaster reported.

Firefighters were able to extinguish the flames and there were no injuries or damage to property, police said.

On Sunday the Israel Fire and Rescue Service said it suspects arson as the cause of a fire that broke out on Thursday at Ben Shemen Forest and burned down almost the entire adjacent community of Mevo Modi’im in central Israel.

Fueled by the scorching weather, more than a thousand fires devastated towns and forests across the country from Thursday to Saturday, forcing thousands of people out of their homes.

Some 50 houses burned down in central Israel — 40 of the 50 homes in Mevo Modi’im and 10 more in the nearby Kibbutz Harel.

If the fires are determined to be anti-Israel-motivated arson, residents whose homes were destroyed will be entitled to government compensation, which they won’t receive if the blazes were accidental.

Israeli firefighters check a house that was badly damaged by a fire amid an extreme heat wave in the village of Mevo Modi’im, in central Israel on May 24, 2019. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)

Authorities investigating the fires were looking at electrical faults, Lag B’Omer holiday bonfires, arson and incendiary balloons from the Gaza Strip as possible causes for the various fires countrywide.

After an investigation into the Mevo Modi’im blaze, the fire service determined it was sparked in several different spots, raising suspicion of arson.

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