Monday, September 21, 2009

Palestinians suspected of setting fire to settler field, caravan

Fire injures six, burns down caravan. Police arrest four Palestinians for suspicion of arson

Efrat Weiss

Six people were injured from smoke inhalation after Palestinians allegedly set on fire to fields near the Gilad Farm outpost in the West Bank on Sunday. A mobile home was entirely burnt down and two other structures sustained damages following the fire. Police arrested four Palestinians for suspicion of arson. Palestinians living nearby denied the allegations, saying the settlers set fire to Palestinian fields. These fires, they said, sometimes spread to the settlers' own property.

The families living in the area managed to escape ahead of time, but their belongings, which included clothes, furniture, books and picture albums was completely destroyed inside the caravan.

Police, army and fire units arrived at the scene and managed to extinguish the flames within a few hours. Those injured were taken to the hospital for treatment.

Twenty five families currently live at the Gilad Farm outpost. Itzik Zar, one of the residents, described the chain of events. "At around 1pm one of the residents from the northern houses spotted two people approaching the farm in a blue tractor, carrying an object in their hand."

Zar added that "about 160 yards away from the farm, the two started a fire, while one of them began to scream and whistle."

"I saw smoke coming toward the houses, but despite it being a holiday, I called the emergency hotline and notified the council as well."

"While we were setting up a dining table outside the house, the wind carried the smoke in our direction and in about 10 minutes the fire reached the table and consumed it whole. The residents used fire extinguishers and pans, giving a true fight," he said.

According to Zar, Yitzhar's security officer arrived at the scene first with a water tanker, at which point smoke entered Zar's children's rooms and the houses at the lower part of the farm. Following this the women and children left the area in their vehicles.

"If this would have happened at night, and we would not have been alert, it could of ended in disaster," said Itay Raz, who suffered injuries. "There is no water pipe here, and the water tanker emptied out before we were done. We waited 40 minutes for a water tanker to arrive from Ariel. There are people with families and children living here, so let us live."

No comments: