Firefighting truck (archive)
Firefighting truck (archive)Israel news photo: Flash 90

Five firefighting crews battled a forest fire Monday evening that burned its way around the village of Iksal, in lower Galilee. The blaze also required the assistance of a number of firefighting aircraft.

Officials said the fire appeared to be the result of an arson attack. A suspect was identified and taken into custody for questioning by police.

Iksal, the area in which the fire was started, is an ancient village believed to date back to the town of Chesulot, on the same site, mentioned in the Book of Joshua ( Joshua 19:12). It is located about five kilometers (three miles) southeast of Nazareth, and has a mixed Muslim-Christian population of approximately 12,000.

The incident comes on the heels of an agreement reached Sunday to establish a National Fire and Rescue Service.

The Knesset Interior Committee was expected to approve the legislation on Monday, ahead of its second and third reading in the plenum scheduled for next week.

Hundreds of fires, including many deliberately set by terror arsonists, have been ignited around the Jerusalem area and in the forested hills surrounding the capital in recent weeks.

At least four arrests have been made in connection with several very large wildfires that did extensive damage to forest land around Jerusalem.