Court remands brothers suspected of starting Carmel wildfire
Police suspect two brothers from the Druze village of Isfiya of lighting a fire near their home, which allegedly spread and set the entire Carmel ablaze.
Haifa Magistrate's Court on Sunday remanded two Druze teenagers who allegedly ignited the most devastating wildfire in Israel's history.
Police arrested Saturday the brothers, residents of the Druze village of Isfiya, ages 14 and 15. The court remanded them for three days.
The brothers' father said that the two were not responsible for starting the fire, and were not present at the scene of the fire when it started.
"My sons are innocent," the father said. "The policemen came and took them away from home as if they were terrorists."
According to the father, the fire broke out several kilometers away from the family's house. He claimed that he and his children were unrelated to the fire and even helped firefighting efforts.
"They are not connected to this, they do not smoke and they did not start a campfire. They are good and innocent kids and we will not let them be maliciously framed."
Police Commissioner David Cohen said on Saturday that the fire was caused by negligence, and not arson, during a situation assessment at the Israel Police northern headquarters.
The fire in the Carmel has been raging since Thursday, with Israeli and foreign fire-fighters still struggling to contain the flames, which have claimed the lives of 42 people and devastated thousands of acres of land.
Thousands of people have also been evacuated from their homes.
The assumption of negligence is in line with the assessment of the police investigators from the Central Region, who said Friday that the fire had not been set deliberately. Initial investigations Thursday, shortly after the blaze started, also led to the conclusion that the fire was the result of carelessness and not malicious action.