Greece, Croatia, Russia send planes to combat fires in Israel

Israel has asked for assistance from neighboring countries to fight numerous out-of-control fires, some of which it believes have been caused by arson.

Greece, Croatia and Russia have sent their airborne firefighting fleets to Israel to aid it in its combat against a wave of blazes the country has been contending with since Monday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday spoke with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and asked for humanitarian assistance in the form of firefighting aircraft.

The Greek and Croatian prime ministers responded immediately and sent firefighting aircraft to assist in extinguishing the fires around Israel.

Israel has sent its firefighters to assist Greece in contending with a mass blaze last year and have an agreement on emergency assistance.

At his visit earlier in the day to the forward command center near Zichron Yaakov, the site of one of the primary fire outbursts, Netanyahu understood that there was a need for aircraft that could carry larger quantities of materials for extinguishing fires, and contacted Israel’s allies to seek that assistance.

Hundreds of firefighters, a dozen airplanes and IDF reserve units have been combating dozens of mass blazes at several locations across the country around the clock since Monday night.

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Israel is experiencing extreme dry and warm weather and, coupled with strong winds, the risk of fires has significantly increased.

Meanwhile, dozens of families were evacuated from their homes in Talmon in the Binyamin region due to a fire that endangered several houses in the community.

Some 40 firefighting teams are fighting a mass fire near Neve Ilan, just north of Jerusalem. In the Galilee, firefighters were able to contain a fire near the community of Gilon, where two houses were damaged.

Several other fires were fought and contained throughout northern Israel.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich ordered an increase in the presence of security forces in open spaces near communities in order to thwart attempts by arsonists to start more fires. Arab arsonists are suspected of taking advantage of the harsh weather conditions to spread destruction and damage, while some of the blazes are the result of negligence.

In one such instance, an IDF outpost in the Binyamin region was evacuated due to a fire. It was caused by a discarded burning cigarette butt.

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News