Following a sharp increase in Arab violence in Jerusalem over the past month, Palestinian criminals adopted a new tactic: arson.
Over the weekend, three Molotov cocktails, believed to have been thrown by perpetrators from the Palestinian village of Qattana near the Jewish Kibbutz of Ma’aleh HaHamisha, caused a major forest fire that burned over 100 acres in the Jerusalem hills.
According to Fire and Rescue Services, the firebombs were thrown at the separation fence between the Palestinian village and the Kibbutz. Jerusalem Police have opened an investigation into this attack as well as two previous attacks, but so far no arrests have been made.
Fire fighters from both Beit Shemesh and Jerusalem were working around the clock on Thursday to put out a fire near the Kibbutz, again on Friday to quelch a different fire also started by arson near Kibbutz Tzora, and then again on Saturday to put out a third fire in the area, again by Ma’aleh Hahamisha.
“It’s very difficult, the firefighters are wiped out – not just those on duty are working, but many are also called in from home,” said Beit Shemesh Fire Chief Reuven Yitzhak.
Momi Elimelech, a spokesperson for the Fire and Rescue Services at the Beit Shemesh station, told reporters that 17 teams of firefighters, four aircraft, and a command center were at the scene of Saturday’s fire.
Yitzhak said that evidence pointing to criminal arson had been found at the scene of the ignition. “On Thursday we found fragments of Molotov cocktails exactly at the spot where the fire started,” he said. “I believe that today was no different from Thursday and no different from Sunday. It’s a phenomenon we’ve been dealing with quite a bit in the last few years – Molotov cocktails thrown over the fence.”
The blaze closed down roads in the area and caused traffic jams of up to five hours in certain towns. Residents of Jerusalem and the surrounding area have become afraid that the violence will only continue as Ramadan carries on for another two weeks.
The newest wave of Palestinian violence goes back to mid-June and the beginning of the month of Ramadan. Ramadan has always been a month marked with higher tension and hostilities shown by Palestinian Muslims to Jews and Christians in Israel.
A slew of Ramadan attacks have already claimed the lives of two Israelis and injured a handful of others. The attacks have consisted of shooting on highways, stabbing soldiers, executing hikers and now throwing firebombs.