Several fires burst out in the Yerushalayim area on Sunday
erev Shavuos, as well as near Beit Shemesh, near the Jordan
River, in the Golan Heights and in the Sharon region. The
weather was extraordinarily hot and may have been the cause
of some of the blazes, but some fires are suspected
Fires destroyed about 2,500 dunams of forests and groves
around Yerushalayim, including agricultural fields
cultivated by residents of two moshavim, Tzalfon and Kfar
The worst fire erupted Sunday afternoon close to Ein Mata, a
spring in the Jerusalem Hills located below Moshav Mata,
east of Beit Shemesh. Sharp winds fanned the fire westward -
flames licked hilly ridges, and spread dangerously close to
electricity supply lines which serve Jerusalem and outlying
areas. Highway 375 leading to Tzur Hadassah was closed to
traffic on Sunday.
Though fire-fighters thought that they had the Mata blaze
under control by Sunday evening, the fire re-lit on Monday,
and spread close to Moshav Mata.
A fire reached Lifta on the outskirts of the city before
firefighters beat it back. Golda Meir Boulevard was closed
to traffic for several hours.
Another major fire broke out at agricultural fields near the
Nachshon junction about 10 miles west of Beit Shemesh, and
residents from two local moshav communities were evacuated
repeatedly on Sunday and Monday.
During the firefighting operation Beit Shemesh police
arrested two Bedouin brothers on suspicion of arson. The two
said they had been brewing coffee when their campfire went
out of control.
Monday night firefighters continued to douse flames at a few
sites in the country as they re-ignited under strong winds
as the heat-wave broke.
In the north, three major blazes flared in Jordan River
forests and Golan Heights areas. One fire spread on Sunday
through dozens of dunams in Park Hayarden in the Golan
Heights. Dozens of families on vacation in the region were
warned of the danger and left.
Two other fires broke out Sunday afternoon in the Sharon
region, in the Matan area and near Kochav Yair (where former
prime minister Ehud Barak lives), and continued on