A week after a large brush-fire burned more than 10 hectares (25 acres) at the entrance to Jerusalem, another fire broke out in the Emek Ha’arezim (Valley of the Pines) in the same area on Wednesday morning. Eight fire crews battled the fire, which burned more than 2 hectares.

Highway 9 was closed to traffic for about an hour and heavy smoke blanketed the area. Police and firefighters opened an investigation into the fire, though arson is suspected since a similar fire broke out in the area less than a week ago.

On Tuesday, police arrested two Jewish youth for allegedly setting a number of fires in open fields around southeast Jerusalem in the past few months. During the investigation, one of the youth admitted he set fires, and was inspired by the television show HaBorer (The Arbitrator), a Sopranos-style crime drama series based on the Israeli underworld. He also implicated the other suspect, who eventually admitted to setting a fire on June 2 in Arnona, during which three cars were burned and residents were evacuated from nearby buildings. On Wednesday, the first suspect was released on conditions, and the second suspect was remanded in the Jerusalem magistrate court until Friday.

More than a dozen people have been arrested in connection with arson in wadis and open areas around Jerusalem in the past two months.

Firefighters dealt with 1,058 incidents of fires in open areas for six weeks in May and June.

Firefighters have determined that arson was responsible for at least 70 percent of those incidents. On average there are 4,000 incidents a year of fires in open areas and forests in the Jerusalem district.

Police and firefighters determined that last week’s string of fires at the entrance of Jerusalem was at least partially caused by arson.

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