25.11.2016 | 20:55
Firefighters push back blaze outside Jerusalem, flames dying down
Some 60 firefighting crews managed to push back the flames near Nataf outside Jerusalem. According to fire official, the flames were under control and subsiding in most areas.
However, it was decided not to let residents go back to their homes, as it was still possible that weather conditions and winds could reignite the flames.
While most of the town has evacuated, a few dozen residents have stayed behind to assist in the firefighting efforts. One of them, Nataf's chairman Rami Matan, told Haaretz: "The wind is constantly tricking us. I'm on the porch seeing the flames getting near, I hope it won't draw any closer. The flames are very high, the mountain is enveloped in a carpet of fire. I've never seen anything like it."
Many firefighting crews from across Israel have arrived at the area, as well as Palestinian crews from Ramallah. "Firefighters are one big family, there's no difference," said Udi Gal, a firefighter and the spokesman for the firefighting services in Jerusalem.
Airtankers will resume their activities in the area only at dawn. An IDF helicopter is on standby in order to evacuate residents in case the roads close.
Earlier, Rama's Kitchen, a well-known restaurant just outside the town, was burned to the ground.
Maya Ben Zvi, the restaurant owner, said that they tried to put out a fire near the restaurant but didn't have enough water pressure. "We saw the tree burn and set fire to the entire restaurant," she told Channel 2. When the fire approached, they evacuated the customers. "We told them to get out, when the place caught fire we ran. We're all in pain over the life work that was incinerated in a second." (
Israel fire: Firefighters helps extinguish a new blaze that broke out in the town of Nataf, west of Jerusalem, on November 25, 2016.
Ahmad Gharabli, AFP
25.11.2016 | 20:24
American 'supertanker' arrives in Israel
The American "supertanker" plane, the largest aerial firefighting aircraft in the world, lands in Israel to help put out the blazes raging across the country.
Senior rescue services officials say that the aircraft's arrival is unnecessary. "This is a matter of politics and less of an operational need. We weren't given the opportunity to express ourselves on the matter," said one official.
The supertanker in Ben Gurion Airport, November 25, 2016.
25.11.2016 | 20:11
110 buildings damaged in Haifa fires
Some 60,000 residents return to Haifa after firefighters quell blazes. According to city hall, 110 buildings were damaged, 42 of which were deemed too dangerous to approach. Some 860 apartments were damaged in the fire. (
25.11.2016 | 18:03
Israel using drones to find suspected arsonists
The Israel Air Force is using 10 drones to find suspected arsonists and fires.
video released by the military shows how a drone is used to help locate arson suspects. "He has a backpack," a drone operator is heard repeating in the video. "Robot, just confirm that you see my image," he says, before using the aircraft to direct forces toward the suspect.
Meanwhile, air tankers that have arrived from Turkey, Russia, Croatia, Cyprus and Italy are operating to help put out the flames. After completing a mission, the planes refuel and restock fire retardants at the Hatzor air base in southern Israel, before taking off again. An Israeli pilot has been assigned to each foreign plane to ease coordination.
25.11.2016 | 18:00
Another fire near Jerusalem; 'suspected arsonist seen fleeing'
Another blaze broke out near the town of Beit Meir, in the Judean Hills, west of Jerusalem. According to fire officials, arsonists were seen fleeing the area.
Earlier, residents of the nearby town of Nataf were evacuated due to another fire that was suspected to have been caused by a firebomb. Damage was caused to a restaurant and a home.
The police searched door to door for Nataf residents who haven't evacuated, finding eight and escorting them out of the danger zone. (Nir Hasson)
Israel fire: Firefighters helps extinguish a new blaze that broke out in the town of Nataf, west of Jerusalem, on November 25, 2016.
Ahmad Gharabli, AFP
25.11.2016 | 17:30
Palestinians' response to Israel’s fires: If it's intentional, it's madness
Fires in Israel have been cheered by online comments from Gaza and Arab countries, but many other Palestinians say: These are our trees and lands, so why destroy them?
Read Amira Hass' full report.
25.11.2016 | 16:57
Residents of town near Jerusalem evacuated due to fire
The residents of Nataf, a town in the Judean Hills, west of Jerusalem, are being evacuated due to a nearby fire. (Nir Hasson)
25.11.2016 | 16:33
Major fire breaks out near Jerusalem, firebombing suspected
A major fire has broken out near Ma'ale Hahamisha and Nataf, in the Judean Hills, west of Jerusalem.
Fire officials suspect that the blaze was caused by a firebomb thrown from a Palestinian village, Katane, which is beyond the security barrier. Thirty firefighting crews and 20 air tankers have been dispatched to the area.
Several areas are ablaze in the West Bank as well. Fires have broken out near the settlements of Dolev, Shaked and Yitzhar. (Nir Hasson)
Fire in Israel: A firefighter inspects the damages in Beit Meir, a village in the hills west of Jerusalem, Israel, November 25, 2016.
Ahmad Gharabli, AFP
A fire is seen blazing near Jerusalem from Modi'in, Israel, November 25, 2016.
25.11.2016 | 16:23
Haifa fire fully under control
The Haifa fire department says that the blaze in the city is now fully under control.
A spokesman said that firefighting forces are gradually being dismissed from the area. By Saturday, only 20 crews are expected to remain in the city. (Noa Shpigel)
Firefighters in Haifa, November 24, 2016.
25.11.2016 | 16:00
More than 13 arrested in connection to the fires, minister says
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan says several arrests have been made in connection to the fires across the country, in addition to the 13 arrested that were reported on Thursday.
Investigators are having trouble determine what caused the fires as the flames destroy the evidence.
"All it takes is a little match," says Ran Shelef, the head of Israel's fire investigation unit. "You don't need flammable substances or any special torching device."
On Thursday, investigators managed to determine that at least some of the fires were intentional, although they did not have unequivocal proof. In the best case scenarios, witnesses, videos, wind direction and objects help investigators put the puzzle together. "In other cases, there is no explanation," Shelef says. " ... We will only be able to tell following a thorough investigation. We are very careful."
25.11.2016 | 15:33
Cockpit footage shows Greek air tanker putting out Haifa fire
A video posted on Twitter shows a Greek air tanker loading water and then using it to fight the blaze in Haifa.
25.11.2016 | 15:07
Netanyahu: Anyone who tries to set Israel on fire will be severely punished
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a press conference that "anyone who tries to burn the State of Israel will be severely punished."
Netanyahu made the remarks after holding an operational meeting in the Hatzor airbase in southern Israel and speaking with Israeli and foreign air tanker pilots. The prime minister said additional tankers are on their way. "We have given aid to other countries in the past and now we are getting help from them in return," he said.
Netanyahu said that there is "no doubt" that arson is at play in some of the fires that have broken out across the country but noted that it is unknown how many of the fires were caused intentionally.
"Anyone who tries to burn the State of Israel will be punished severely ... " he said. "Crime has a price. Arson terrorism has a price, and we will make sure to collect. There are fundamentals of terrorism here, there is absolutely no doubt." He noted that it is as yet unclear whether the incidents were coordinated.
25.11.2016 | 13:27
Police: All evacuees from Haifa may return home
Police have announced that all residents of Haifa who were evacuated as flames engulfed the city may now return to their homes. (
25.11.2016 | 13:22
Homes evacuated as new fires erupt in northern Israel, West Bank
A new fire has erupted next to the town of Yad in the lower Galilee region where 15 homes have been evacuated and no injuries have been reported. Yet another fire has broken out north of the settlement of Yitzhar in the West Bank.
At the town of Harashim, firefighters are struggling in heavy winds to hold back flames that have come within 300 meters of housing. Highway 864 leading into the two has been blocked to traffic and all residents have been evacuated. (
Noa Shpigel and Jack Khoury)
A firefighting plane flies over the northern Israeli town of Harashim on Friday, November 25, 2016.
25.11.2016 | 12:38
Police: Residents of six evacuated Haifa neighborhoods can return home
Police have announced that the residents of six separate Haifa neighborhoods, Ramat Alon, Ramat Remez, Ramat Golda, Ramat Begin, Ramot Chen and Ramat Almogi - excluding Einstein Street which will remain closed - can return to their homes after being evacuated. (
25.11.2016 | 11:56
Israel Fire: Egypt and Jordan to send aid, firefighting crews
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accepted an offer of aid in fighting Israel's fires from Egypt and Jordan.
Egypt is expected to send two firefighting helicopters and Jordan will send ground crews.
The prime minister accepted a similar offer from the Palestinian Authority on Thursday, and four Palestinian crews are still active in fighting the fires in Haifa.( Barak Ravid)
Firefighter planes dump flame retardant on fire in Haifa on Thursday, November 24, 2016.
25.11.2016 | 11:50
Public security minister: Evidence found that original fire was arson
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said that evidence has been found that the initial fire that broke out in Zikron Ya'akov and burned 30 homes was the result of arson. "We found gasoline in Zikron," Erdan told Army radio in an interview.
According to the minister, "At the moment we are focused on saving lives, there's no time to completely investigate all of the incidents. However, rescue and fire workers have decades of experience ... and the consencus is that this is arson."
Erdan also said that the army had been contacted for help via use of unmanned drones and that this cooperation led to the arrest of one arson suspect in Beit Meir near Jerusalem.
25.11.2016 | 11:26
Residents can return to homes in Haifa's Denya neighborhood, say police
Flames in Haifa's neighborhood of Ramat Eshkol have rebounded and two firefighting planes from Croatia are leading the operations to extinguish the fire in the area. In the neighborhood of Denya however, police told residents that they can now return to their homes.
According to the municipality, 37 homes in Haifa have been severely damaged. Separately, a fire in Harashim north of Carmiel is still burning out of control and some of the town's residents have been evacuated, though homes in the area aren't considered to be in any danger. (Noa Shpigel)
25.11.2016 | 10:07
Town in northern Israel evacuated due to proximity of new fire
12 suspects are being investigated by police on suspicion of arson or incitement to arson.
A new fire has broken out in the town of Harashim, north east of Carmiel in northern Israel. The town has been evacuated due to the proximity of the fire. (
Noa Shpigel and Yaniv Kubovitch)
Evacuees at a help center in Haifa after a fire forced them to leave their homes on Thursday, November 24, 2016.
25.11.2016 | 09:55
Second arson suspected arrested for fire near Jerusalem, crews reduce presence in Haifa
In light of improving conditions in Haifa's fire, the amount of forces in the area will be reduced in the coming hours. 35 teams are expected to remain, including four offered as aid from the Palestinian Authority and multiple firefighting planes. Police stressed Friday morning however, that residents who were evacuated are still not permitted to return to their homes. Israel's Electric Corporation said that 700 homes remain without electricity in Haifa.
Police have arrested a second suspect in the fire in Beit Meir near Jerusalem. A team from Israel's Environmental Protection Ministry is expected to test the air quality in the hills near Jerusalem over concerns of pollution from buildings containing asbestos that burned in the area. The ministry does not expect that residents will be allowed to return home on Friday. The fire in the area is being fed by strong winds and firefighters are focusing their efforts to prevent the flames from reaching a gas station and construction site of Israel Railways.
A resident of Rahat was arrested Thursday accused of posting incitement on Facebook. He has appeared in court for a hearing to extend his remand. (
Noa Shpigel, Nir Hasson and Almog Ben Zikri)
Firefighters battle a blaze in Beit Meir near Jerusalem on Friday, November 25, 2016.
25.11.2016 | 09:43
Israel Fire: How Netanyahu's bigger, 'better' firefighting squadron led to a spectacular failure
There’s no point being wise after the fact. The warnings were there, and were updated again after pretentious plans were supposedly put in place. The results are scorched into Israel’s towns and hillsides. Benjamin Netanyahu, who was apportioned the major responsibility for the lack of preparedness of Israel’s firefighting services during the deadly Mount Carmel fire in 2010 by State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss, wasted the following six years in fitful empty gestures. Who will he blame now, what will he boast about, as he stands like a beggar asking for help from our neighbors?
Israel fire: A plane battles a fire in Haifa, Israel, November 24, 2016.
Ariel Schalit, AP
25.11.2016 | 08:55
Homes ignite in fire near Jerusalem, blaze in Haifa calms
At least ten homes have caught fire and were severely damaged in the town of Beit Meir near Jerusalem as the blaze there continues to rage out of control. An illegal resident was arrested near the source of the fire. Residents who were evacuated overnight to nearby Shoresh have not yet been allowed to return to their homes.
Meanwhile, firefighters report that the fire in Haifa calmed down overnight. Rescue workers left in the area are spread out to prevent a revival of the fire as they work to extinguish what remains of the fire - an effort that could last for several days. (
Noa Shpigel and Nir Hasson)
Fire in Israel: Firefighters battle a blaze in Beit Meir near Jerusalem on Friday, November 25, 2016.
Jerusalem Fire and Rescue
25.11.2016 | 06:48
Police detain man over suspected arson in Jerusalem area
Police detained a man over suspected arson in the Jerusalem-area community of Beit Meir on Friday morning after a fire broke out there earlier.
Police had earlier received a report that a number of suspects were seen fleeing from the area, it said.
25.11.2016 | 05:26
Jerusalem-area community evacuated
Multiple firefighting crews made their way to the Jerusalem-area community of Beit Meir early on Friday morning after a fire broke out in the area.
Residents were evacuated to the neighboring Shoresh, and no injuries were reported.
25.11.2016 | 02:54
'Supertanker' to arrive in Israel, perhaps unnecessarily
Six years after it arrived in Israel to fight the massive Carmel fire, the "Supertanker" firefighting plane will arrive in Israel on Friday to help put out the flames raging across the country.
However, senior rescue services officials say that the aircraft's arrival is unnecessary.
According to the officials, no assessment had been carried out by professionals to determine the operational need for the plane.
"This is a matter of politics and less of an operational need. We weren't given the opportunity to express ourselves on the matter," said one official.
25.11.2016 | 00:06
Fire in Judean Hills grows stronger
The fire in the Judean Hills grew stronger on Thursday night. Large firefighting forces were attempting to prevent it from spreading.
Another fire, near the northern community of Upper Nazareth, also grew stronger.
Weather conditions over the weekend are not expected to bode well with the firefighters. The eastern winds that fanned the fires are expected to continue to blow on Friday, but will weaken toward nighttime.
25.11.2016 | 00:06
New fires break out in northern Israel
A large fire broke out near the northern community of Carmiel. Eight firefighting crews were operating at the scene. No injuries were reported.
Another fire erupted near the kibbutzim of Tzivon and Sasa in the Upper Galilee.
24.11.2016 | 23:15
Airbnb waives service fees in light of fires
The Airbnb online homestay network on Thursday waived all service fees for its users in Israel in light of the fires raging in multiple locations across the country.
A disaster response page was set up to enable people affected by the fire to find a place to stay.
24.11.2016 | 22:15
New fires spread quickly in north, threatening homes
Several new fires have erupted in northern Israel, including one large fire spreading quickly between Nahf and Sajur near Karmiel.
Another blaze near Kiryat Ata is nearing homes. Yet another fire broke out between the Kibbutzim of Tsiv'on and Sasa in the Golan. (
A fire that erupted in northern Israel near Nahf on Thursday, November 24, 2016.
Fire and Rescue Spokesperson's unit
24.11.2016 | 21:23
Israel accepts Palestinian offer to send four teams to combat blazes
Israel has accepted an offer by the Palestinian Authority to send four firefighting teams to help combat the blazes, a senior official said. The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories is now overseeing the cooperation between Palestinian fire trucks and Israeli fire crews.
Civilians in a vehicle watch as flames engulf trees across the street in Haifa on Thursday, November 24, 2016.
24.11.2016 | 21:20
Six years after fire claims 44 lives, Israelis watch north burn again
The images of fires blazing out of control, huge plumes of smoke in the sky and homes burnt to the ground have struck horror in the hearts of many Israelis in recent days. In part, because the scenes are all too familiar.
The remains of a bus carrying Israeli Prison Service cadets that caught fire on its way up to evacuate a prison on Mt. Carmel, Israel, December 2, 2012.
24.11.2016 | 21:04
Over 2,000 acres burned in Israel's largest fire since 2010
Nearly 9,000 dunams (2,224 acres) have been burned in the fires across Israel, in the bieggest natural disaster in the country in terms of land involved since the Carmel fires of 2010, according to a JNF estimate.
Fires continue to spread in the areas of Canada Park and Sha'ar HaGai near Jerusalem. Access to these areas is limited and no progress in expected to be made there overnight. Many firefighters and other rescue workers are at the scenes to defend roads, towns and a gas station in Sha'ar HaGai, but no firefighting activities are currently taking place. (
Firefighters working into the late evening near Haifa on Thursday, November 24, 2016.
24.11.2016 | 20:49
Public security minister: Israel fires 'under control,' 8 arrested
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan told Channel 2 News that the fires across Israel "are under control." According to him, "The statements about the arson are statements that are backed up by professional sources from the Fire and Rescue Authority. But it must be understood that the efforts of the last two days are not investigations but life-saving efforts - and so we need to remember that these are initial evaluations.
In a subsequent interview with Channel 10, Erdan said that eight individuals had been arrested and that the arson was suspected of being politically motivated.
Four Arabs were arrested Thursday morning, suspected of arson. The investigation moved forward as suspected negligent arson, but in the end, the four were released after it proved that they weren't involved with the fires. (
24.11.2016 | 20:04
Facebook activates safety check feature in wake of Israel fire
Facebook has activated its security check feature for the Haifa area in wake of the fires that spread across Israel.
The social media platform has come under public criticism in the past for not activating its feature during other events in Israel like terror attacks.
Over 130 people were injured in the fires on Thursday, mostly from smoke inhalation, but none were considered in serious of life-threatening condition.
24.11.2016 | 19:44
Haifa neighborhoods to remain without electricity overnight
Haifa municipality has announced that several neighborhoods will remain without electricity overnight and at least through Friday morning, including Ramat Chen, Ramat Sapir, Ramat Almogi, Ramat Begin, Ramat Golda, Hurav and Romema.
Firefighters in the area of Ein Hod successfully extinguished the fire that erupted there.
Meanwhile, a firefighting plane from Turkey has landed in Israel. (
Noa Shpigel and Gili Cohen)
A fire blazes in Haifa on Thursday, November 24, 2016.
Firefighters combat a fire at a home in Haifa on Thursday, November 24, 2016.
24.11.2016 | 18:59
Netanyahu asks for help fighting Israel fire from American 'Supertanker'
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered the Foreign Ministry to contact the American company that operates the "Supertanker," a massive firefighting plane, to discuss the possibility of bringing it to Israel to help handle the wave of fires that have spread across the country, according to a senior source.
A Foreign Ministry spokesman confirmed Netanyahu's request and said that an agreement had been reached that would see the supertanker arrive in Israel within 28 hours.
The Supertanker is a Boeing 747 outfitted with technology to act as a firefighting plane. It was first brought to Israel to fight the massive fire in Carmel in 2010. (
U.S. Evergreen 747 supertanker sprays over an area in Ein Hod in the Carmel Forest in the outskirts of Haifa on December 5, 2010
Jack Guez, AFP
24.11.2016 | 18:40
Homes burned in central Israeli town
Several homes were set alite in a fire in the central Israeli town of Nirit, that has subsequently been extinguished. No injuries were reported.
The entrance to the town, which has been without electricty, was blocked off and a center to receive evacuated families was set up in the neighboring town of Matan.
The Sha'ar HaNegev Regional Council has invited residents of the north who were forced to evacuate their homes to stay with host families in the south. Those interested in participating are asked to call 03-6925331. (
Lee Yaron and Almog Ben Zikri)
A home burned in a fire that engulfed residential neighborhoods of Haifa on Thursday, November 24, 2016.