Investigators examining claims of arson have confirmed that a fire which wrought havoc on the town of Nataf last week was indeed deliberately set.
The blaze, which caused heavy damage to the community, burned down the local restaurant, and forced residents to evacuated, was apparently sparked by a firebomb, likely thrown by an Arab arsonist.
“The fire began next to the fence of the [Arab] village of Katane, apparently as a result of a Molotov cocktail from the village towards the wooded area,” said local fire department chief Moshe Eliezeri.
Due to the intense dryness and heavy winds, Eliezeri said, the fire quickly spread towards the nearby Jewish communities of Maaleh HaHamisha, Mevo Horon, and Nataf.
“Within a short time,” he continued, “the fire reached the outskirts of Nataf, skipping through the valley and surrounding the town from the west and east, and along the way burning nature reserves and planted forests, as well as the building housing the restaurant in Nataf.”
Firefighters saved local residents, beating back the flames and holding open an escape route long enough to evacuate everyone in the community.
Investigations in another community in the Jerusalem corridor, Beit Meir, are continuing and no findings have yet been publicized.