Israeli firefighters – together with teams from Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, Croatia, Italy and Russia – are battling fires around the country for a third day. The fires, which have already destroyed some residential homes and have forced thousands of people to flee their neighborhoods, are spreading quickly as hot, strong winds fan the flames.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said all possible causes of the fires are being checked, including deliberate arson attacks.
Israeli firefighters have said the wildfires are the worst since 2010, when an inferno in the country’s north claimed the lives of 44 people, displaced 17,000 others, and scorched more than one third of the Carmel Forest.
Reports say 220 fires broke out across the country since Tuesday.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Police Chief Roni Alsheikh ordered police to increase security in forested areas citing suspicions that many of the fires raging across Israel were started deliberately.
In Haifa today, 12 neighborhoods were evacuated – translating, according to numerous media reports, to tens of thousands of people told to flee their homes.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put out calls for assistance to neighboring allies. Russia committed to sending two giant Beriev be-200 firefighting aircraft, after Netanyahu asked Russian President Vladimir Putin for help. Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, Croatia, and Italy have also sent assistance.
Israel is burning!
How can someone who claims for years to own this land, set it on fire? If you love something you don't burn it down. pic.twitter.com/6ddVINhQuo
— Chagit Gibor (@ChagitGibor) November 24, 2016