Sat. Nov 26, 2016 Israel News

  • Video Editor: Roi Evron
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  • Efforts to extinguish the fires all over the country continue
  • More than 20 suspects arrested for arson; Palestinian caught on video trying to set fire to a forest south of Jerusalem
  • American supertanker flies its first mission over the hills of Jerusalem. Firefighters say it's unnecessary for the time being

Fires continued to rage in some parts of Israel on Saturday after a massive blaze on Friday night brought devastation to the West Bank settlement of Halamish, north of Ramallah, and areas of the Jerusalem hills. Sixty-five homes were damaged including 15 which burnt almost completely to the ground. The fire started late Friday night in the forest of the Jerusalem hills and spread into Halamish destroying homes, cars and greenery. One thousand residents were ordered to leave the community as there was a real danger to their lives. The blaze was brought under control during the day on Saturday after which smaller fires reignited in various places, but firefighters maintained control. It is estimated that residents of Halamish will be able to return to their homes on Sunday.

Authorities arrested 23 suspected arsonists as well as dozens of Palestinians suspected of inciting rage via social media. Most of the suspected arsonists were from Judea and Samaria although some are Israeli Arabs. Workers at the Nature and Parks Authority helped to bring about the arrest of one suspected arsonist who was captured on the Authority's video in a forest south of Jerusalem.

The massive Supertanker Boeing 747 which arrived late Friday evening from the United States and is considered the largest firefighting aircraft in the world, took off on its first mission Saturday afternoon to help extinguish the fires near Jerusalem. However, senior rescue services officials say that the aircraft is unnecessary and that no assessment had been carried out by professionals to determine the operational need for the plane. In the meantime, some 1700 people still cannot return to the homes due to fires.

Minister of Internal Security Gilad Erdan says that firefighters are in control of all the fires all over the country but that Israel is still not out of the woods until the end of the week and is asking schools to avoid trips to wooded areas. He also says that arson is a new form of terror and is calling for the destruction of the homes of the terrorists.  

The show of solidarity from Israel's neighbors was a welcome sign for Israel. An Egyptian helicopter, one of two sent by Israel's neighbor to the south, flew over Haifa on Saturday. The helicopters are among the assistance Israel is receiving from many countries throughout the world.

And finally, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu formally thanked the Palestinian Authority for its assistance in fighting the fires raging throughout the country. The Palestinian Authority sent four crews into Israel in the north via the Gilboa crossing to assist teams in Haifa, with eight trucks in total now working with their Israeli counterparts.

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