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70 fires rage in Judea and Samaria; arson suspected

A dog reportedly died in a fire in the Israeli community of Elon Moreh in northern Samaria.

Firefighters try to extinguish a fire which broke out in Moshav Yashresh in central Israel, May 3, 2024. Photo by Yossi Aloni/Flash90.
Firefighters try to extinguish a fire which broke out in Moshav Yashresh in central Israel, May 3, 2024. Photo by Yossi Aloni/Flash90.

Israeli firefighters battled some 70 blazes across Judea and Samaria on Monday, including large fires authorities believe were intentionally lit, the Kan News public broadcaster said, citing the Israel Fire and Rescue Services.

The first fire was reported near an Israel Defense Forces base on Mount Hazor, located near Ofra in the Binyamin region of Samaria. Authorities said the fire appeared to be the result of arson.

The Israel Fire and Rescue Services said it also suspected arson in the case of three fires lit on Monday around the community of Peduel, located near the security barrier in northern Samaria.

“It started from the direction of the Shiloh Stream and climbed under the protection of the wind towards Peduel,” the commander of the regional fire station told Ynet, explaining that “due to the danger, the decision was made to evacuate the first row of houses.”

In Elon Moreh, an Israeli town of some 2,000 people in Samaria, a residential building and a nearby warehouse were damaged by large fires. A dog died in the suspected arson attack, local rescue workers said.

Channel 14 reported that foul play was also suspected in fires around Revava, Shavei Shomron and Kiryat Netafim. Additional fires were reported near Kochav Hashachar, in Gush Etzion and the Jordan Valley.

Fires sparked by burning balloons and kites sent over the Gaza border by the Hamas terrorist organization have claimed tens of thousands of acres of land in southern Israel since 2018. Israeli experts believe it will take years to rehabilitate the burned nature reserves and farmland.

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