Nof Hagalil fire under control, arson suspected in other fires

While most fires are believed to have been caused due to extreme heat, officials in the Israeli security establishment raised concerns that some fires are the result of arson.

A fire engulfs a house in the city of Nof HaGalil, October 9, 2020. (photo credit: POLICE SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
A fire engulfs a house in the city of Nof HaGalil, October 9, 2020.
(photo credit: POLICE SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
Some 5,000 people were forced to evacuate their houses on Friday as dozens of wild fires broke out across the country and some continued to blaze on Saturday, although most residents were allowed to return home by Saturday morning.
Firefighters gained control of one fire near Nof Hagalil on Saturday night after 13 fire teams, assisted by firefighting aircraft worked to put out the flames throughout the day. An investigation was opened to learn the cause of that fire.
While most fires are believed to have been the result of the extreme heat on Friday, security officials have raised concerns that some blazes in the West Bank, including a fire in Maoz Zvi, were the result of arson by Palestinians.
Dozens of houses throughout the country suffered damage and dozens of people needed treatment for smoke inhalation, among them were at least 10 firefighters.
IDF soldiers were called in to help contain some of the fires and to assist in evacuating people from threatened residential areas.
On Friday morning, some 25 fire crews, including volunteers, were called to the upscale Kfar Haoranim settlement near Modi’in to contain wildfires that caused severe damage to at least one house. Air support was also called in and rescue services ordered all residents to evacuate as more firefighting units were called. A special unit was set up to coordinate all arriving security and aid forces but residents were allowed to return to their homes later in the afternoon.

A wildfire near Kfar HaOranim near Modi'in Illit engulfs several houses, October 9, 2020. (Ori Lewis)A wildfire near Kfar HaOranim near Modi'in Illit engulfs several houses, October 9, 2020. (Ori Lewis)
Throughout Friday night, firefighters attempted to control the blaze which had spread over two sectors of land around Nof Hagalil and Har Devora.
Teams were rotated to allow firefighters to rest but those who were replaced returned to confront the blazes in the early morning.
Nof Hagalil residents who live near the wildfire were asked to evacuate but at least one house was engulfed in flames, and four people required treatment for smoke inhalation.
Eight fire teams and four aircraft worked to douse a blaze near Mount Dov on the northern border and a smaller fire was also reported near the Illut-Tzipori junction, but that required only four teams for the containment effort.
Fire services work to contain a wildfire in the area of Umm al-Fahm, October 10, 2020. (FIRE AND RESCUE SERVICE)Fire services work to contain a wildfire in the area of Umm al-Fahm, October 10, 2020. (FIRE AND RESCUE SERVICE)

More fires were reported in additional areas, including in the West Bank settlement of Mevo Dotan and in Bat Hefer and troops were called in to both these areas where an evacuation was also ordered.
The Islamic Movement in Israel and the Joint List Party set up an emergency center to provide support to fire victims in the Nazareth area, and handed out 700 packages with food to Jewish and Arab families in the area.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu consulted with Public Security Minister Amir Ohana, acting police commissioner Moti Cohen, Fire Commissioner Dedi Simchi and Meir Ben-Shabbat, the head of the National Security Council.

Fire services work to contain a wildfire near Kfar HaOranim, October 10, 2020. (Ori Lewis)Fire services work to contain a wildfire near Kfar HaOranim, October 10, 2020. (Ori Lewis)
Netanyahu said a call for international assistance should be considered, if necessary but Cohen indicated that, thanks to the coordinated efforts of police and Home Front Command, this would not be required.
President Reuven Rivlin took to Twitter to show his support for the firefighters.
“I’ve been anxiously following the updates on the wildfires spreading across several areas in the country. My heart goes out to the residents who were forced to evacuate their homes during these challenging days.
“I send my sincere support to our firefighters. I see how hard you all are working to contain the spreading fire and pray that the situation ends as soon as possible,” the president tweeted.
Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai told Nof Hagalil Mayor Ronen Plot that Tel Aviv’s municipality would donate NIS 100,000 towards supplying evacuees with food Saturday afternoon, according to Ynet News.
Joint List leader Ayman Odeh addressed the nationwide fires and the reports indicating Palestinian responsibility, blaming the government for neglecting its firefighting services.
“The fires in northern Israel today, just like the coronavirus, do not differentiate between Jews and Arabs,” Odeh tweeted. “Before the defense establishment chooses to falsely blame Palestinians – as they have in the past – the government should stop and see how it has simply neglected its fire and rescue services, despite increased instances of fires breaking out in recent years.”
MK Orna Barbivai visited Nof Hagalil on Saturday and met with Plot and evacuees. Barbivai sent a letter to the Prime Minister and Finance Minister demanding that funds be set aside immediately to help with fire damage. She also sent an urgent request to the Knesset Speaker to raise the issue for discussion in the plenum.
Tamar Beeri and Eve Young contributed to this report.