On August 6, Israel sent a team of 16 firefighters to Greece to assist in dealing with severe wildfires plaguing its neighbor across the Mediterranean Sea.
The firefighting team was formed following a request from the Greek government for assistance in dealing with fires currently raging on the island of Evia, the Peloponnese peninsula and Fokida in the central region north of Athens.
The mission was planned in coordination with the Israeli Embassy in Athens, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Public Security, the National Fire and Rescue Authority and the National Security Council.
Their task is all the more difficult and dangerous because of Greece’s most intense heat wave in three decades. With temperatures soaring up to 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit), one volunteer firefighter died Friday and at least 20 people were treated in hospitals over the last week.
Greece also is receiving the help of firefighting personnel and aircraft from France, Spain, Ukraine, Cyprus, Croatia, Sweden, Poland, Romania, Switzerland and the United States.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid said: “Israel is coming to Greece’s aid out of friendship and mutual aid. The entire region is facing challenges that are a result of climate change, and the fires pose a threat to lives and property. I am grateful to the Israeli firefighters who undertook to come to the aid of our Greek friends on behalf of the State of Israel.”
Update: On the night of August 9, the Israeli government approved the departure of two firefighting planes to assist in extinguishing the wildfires in Greece.