The fires raging in the Jerusalem mountains intensified Monday afternoon, driven by strong winds, firefighting services reported.

The fires have approached the Tzuba River, Har Eitan, and the communities of Sho'eva and Shoresh.

Ten firefighting aircraft have been deployed, along with significant forces on the ground, to combat and contain the blaze.

Police forces began evacuating hundreds of families of from Kibbutz Tzova and localities of Ein Rafa, Ein Naqquba and Giv'at Ye'arim.

Residents of Sho'eva who were evacuated from their homes yesterday and managed to return to them are preparing for an emergency evacuation order. The first line of houses in the locality has already been ordered to vacate.

17,000 dunams (4,200 acres) have been burned by the fires so far.

A senior firefighter in the fire department stated on Sunday evening that the fire had broken out as a result of a deliberate act of arson and added that the investigation into the incident is only in its infancy.

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