Fire at the entrance to Nataf
Fire at the entrance to NatafYonatan Sindel/Flash 90

A huge fire which broke out on Friday afternoon in the Jerusalem Hills is threatening the community of Nataf, whose residents were asked to evacuate their homes.

The forest fire broke out at around 3:00 p.m. (Israel time) and quickly began to spread to Nataf. 30 firefighting crews and 20 firefighting planes were dispatched to the area.

The fire damaged a restaurant and at least one home in Nataf. There were no reports of injuries.

As of 8:00 p.m. the fire was still not extinguished and the efforts will continue into the night, though it becomes harder to extinguish the flames after dark since the firefighting planes do not operate in the dark.

In addition to Nataf, two more fires were reported near the community of Mevo Horon, located near Latrun and Modi’in, and another near the town of Beit Meir which was evacuated overnight Thursday due to an earlier fire.

Meanwhile, security forces on Friday arrested 12 suspects in connection with the fires. One of the suspects, a youth from Rahat in southern Israel, was arrested for incitement, after he called on his Facebook page to “take care of the Zionists.”

In addition, police said that, at the present time, 11 additional suspects are being interrogated in connection to the arsons raging across the country - three in connection to the giant fires in Haifa.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)