Severe heatwave, devastating wildfires affecting Israel

Severe heatwave, devastating wildfires affecting Israel

Severe heatwave, record-breaking in parts of the country, is affecting Israel over the past couple of days, along with numerous devastating wildfires in multiple locations across the country.

Central Israel has been severely affected by forest fires in the last 24 hours, with up to 500 ha (1 235 acres) burned and 15 villages and small towns evacuated.

The majority of wildfires are raging in areas between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, where temperatures are approximately 43.5 °C (110.3 °F).

Firefighters are battling the blazes since Thursday, May 23, TV7 Israel News reports:

"The primary objective of this entire operation is about dealing with all that is connected with saving lives. At present, 3 500 people have been evacuated from their homes. Let me remind you that we are currently evacuating homes by force, towns by force. Which means that people will try to return to their homes. We do not permit a return to the houses. The instruction right now is to save lives. Look what happened in Mevo Modiin, if we did not evacuate the town there we would have faced a different scenario. All the houses were burnt, and it is very significant on our part," Police Commissioner for Central Israel Amihai Ashad said. 

Record high temperatures were recorded in the northern city of Tiberius - 46 °C (114.8 °F), and in the Dead Sea region - 48 °C (118.4 °F).

Following a request for assistance through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, three firefighting airplanes from Cyprus and Italy were dispatched to assist.

Temperatures in the country are expected to remain high (over 40 °C / 104 °F) with high winds are expected throughout the day.

Featured image credit: Alj770

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