A 14-year-old resident of Usfiya was arrested on Monday on suspicion of throwing
a piece of charcoal from a water pipe into a forest clearing near the village on
Thursday morning, witnessing the ignition of a large fire and running
Police suspect the boy’s actions led directly to the Carmel forest
2 Usfiya brothers held for suspected criminal
Video: Police say Carmel fire started by negligence,
Hundreds mourn as Haifa police chief is laid to
The youth confessed to the allegations against him and reenacted
his suspected actions on Monday, police added.
After seeing the flames
grow out of control, the boy became panicked, “ran back to his school [in
Usfiya], and did not report the fire to anyone,” police said.
will appear before the Haifa Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday morning for a remand
Coastal Police spokesman Mor Inbar told The Jerusalem Post that
four additional Usfiya youths had been questioned in recent days in connection
with the water pipe incident. They included two brothers, aged 16 and 14, who
were arrested on Sunday. The brothers were released by the Haifa District Court
on Monday after Judge Avraham Elyakim accepted an appeal by attorneys
representing them, against a decision by the Haifa Magistrate’s Court to keep
them in custody until Wednesday.
Elyakim noted that police suspected the
minors of causing death through criminal negligence, but added that the
suspects’ young age represented a mitigating factor in the suspicions against
“There is no disputing the trauma caused by the fires to many
people, but we should not place a national disaster on the shoulders of two
minors,” Elyakim said in his decision on Monday.
Two additional minors
were detained for questioning – though not arrested – by officers from the
Coastal Police subdistrict’s central unit on Monday and released, before the
14-yearold suspect was put under arrest.
In a related development, police
arrested a 32-year-old Arab resident of southeast Jerusalem’s Silwan
neighborhood on Monday afternoon after they caught him lighting a tree on fire
in northern Jerusalem, near Ammunition Hill. He allegedly caused a small
Police and firefighters arrived and quickly controlled the fire. No
damage was reported.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said a total of
four suspects around the country had been arrested in recent days on suspicion
of deliberately setting smaller fires.
Two suspects were arrested in the
Jerusalem area, and two more were arrested in Acre for alleged arson
Rosenfeld said that “over 20 smaller fires around the country”
that had broken out since Thursday were suspected to be acts of
All of the smaller fires were put out by firefighters and did not
A day after the last of the Prisons Service members who
burned to death in their bus near Kibbutz Beit Oren on Thursday were buried,
police said a full examination was under way to determine what could be learned
from the tragedy. However, a police source added that no decision had been made
about an investigation committee.
According to police, the bus, driven by
48-year-old David Navon – who was posthumously recruited into the Prisons
Service on Monday – tried to turn around on the narrow, single- lane highway
connecting Beit Oren junction to Atlit, after screeching to a halt in front of a
wall of fire.
As the flames engulfed the vehicle from both directions,
desperate Prisons Service staff members tried to flee the bus, and most ran
straight into the flames.
The bus was accompanied by police cars
containing Cmdr. Lior Boker, Dep.- Cmdr. Itzik Melina and Haifa Police chief
Asst.- Cmdr. Ahuva Tomer, all of whom died of burn-related
Parents of two victims from the Prisons Service, Roee Biton and
Hagai Jerno, came forward on Monday to accuse the authorities of failing to
prepare staff members by sending them on a mission to evacuate the Damon prison
without the means to defend themselves against a fire. The families told Ynet
that they did not blame the Service for the tragedy, but rather “those who were
responsible for putting out the fires, evacuating homes and closing off
A police source added, “Obviously, this tragedy will be examined
from all directions, from the intelligence to the operational
Lessons will be learned. An incident of this scale cannot go by
without being examined in detail.”
Melanie Lidman contributed to this