10 soldiers lightly injured in arson attack

Police believe Arab youth threw firecrackers at Jerusalem's Oferit base; 2 soldiers taken to hospital for smoke inhalation.

Israeli firefighter 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Gil Cohen Magen)
Israeli firefighter 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Gil Cohen Magen)
A number of Arab youth are suspected of throwing lit firecrackers at an army base outside of Jerusalem on Sunday afternoon, starting a large forest fire. Ten soldiers at the Oferit Army base in Jerusalem next to Mount Scopus were lightly wounded by smoke inhalation and two were taken to the Hadassah University Medical Center in Mount Scopus for treatment.
At the same time, three fire crews battled another forest fire, also believed to be an arson attack, in the Peace Forest next to the Armon Hanetziv neighborhood of south Jerusalem.
Firefighters have dealt with a wave of arson attacks in the past two weeks concentrated in the forests around southeast Jerusalem, including 1,789 incidences of fires in open areas. In more than 100 cases, investigators definitively determined arson to be the cause of the fire. Sometimes multiple fires are considered part of the same investigation.
Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said he doubted the Oferit army base fire was connected to the simultaneous fire next to the Haas Promenade in Armon Hanetziv. He cited the distance between the two sites, as well as the fact that southeast Jerusalem seems to be an ongoing problem rather than just a one-time issue.
Last week, police arrested two Jewish teenagers for setting fires in the open areas around southeast Jerusalem neighborhoods. The arsons have not abated since the teenagers’ arrests.
Most of the blazes are around the Arnona, Armon Hanetziv, Jebl Mukaber and Sur Bahir neighborhoods. Jerusalem Fire and Rescue spokesman Asaf Abras said the fires were so frequent that firefighters have often been called back to the same area less than 15 minutes later to deal with another outbreak.