Man has been arrested after cutting trees, setting fire in Tel Aviv park; suspect: I did it to connect to God
Yoav Zeitun Published: 02.18.10, 23:12 / Israel News
A 40-year-old man has been arrested after cutting down eucalyptus trees in Tel Aviv's Yarkon Park and making a bonfire with them.
The suspect explained that he used the trees and fire in order to connect with God. However, the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court was unimpressed with the unusual explanation and extended his remand Thursday, sending him for psychiatric observation.
During a routine inspection on Wednesday, Yarkon park security officer Alex Firov spotted smoke rising from a wooded area.
"I approached the smoke, and saw a small area of tree stumps, and in the center was a man watching a fire burn," Firov told Ynet. "When I asked what he was doing, he said that he connects with God through the fires he lights each day."
Firov demanded that the man, who wore a kippah, put out the fire and keep away.
"He refused outright and told me to get out of the area, saying it was his own private space," Firov said. "In any case, he promised, it didn’t matter what happened, he would return to light fires in the park using trees he would cut down."
'Trees were dead anyway'
When the security officer called the police, the man disappeared, but a few hours later when Firov returned to the site with police officers, they spotted the suspect lighting another fire. He was arrested and during questioning admitted to felling some 70 trees, but explained that they were "dead anyway."
At the magistrate's court, the suspect added: "Nobody saw me cutting down trees, I was only seen lighting a fire, which didn't disturb anyone. I cut down the trees using a handsaw, not a power saw, but I didn't know it was forbidden to cut down trees. I want you to charge me for the trees, and I promise to light the next fire in a different place."
Noteably, in addition to the strict prohibition on cutting down trees in the park, cutting down eucalyptus trees is a criminal offence because they are listed as a protected species. Punishment for felling them can be up to six months' imprisonment and fines of thousands of shekels.
Is God listening? - Yarkon Park :
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