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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Israeli firefighters continue to tackle wildfires near Jerusalem

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Israeli firefighters worked for a third consecutive day to contain a wildfire that has consumed a large area of forest west of Jerusalem and threatened several communities.

Israel Fire and Rescue Service said that 110 firefighting teams accompanied by eight aircraft were working to combat the fire that has consumed around seven square miles of land, making it one of the largest wildfires in the country’s history.

Five lorries of Palestinian firefighters joined in the operation.

On Monday Israel asked regional ally Greece for assistance in fighting the fire, and foreign minister Yair Lapid said he was also reaching out to Cyprus, Italy and France for possible assistance.

Hot, dry weather and short winters in recent years have left the wooded hills near Jerusalem especially prone to wildfires.

The blaze that began on Sunday has cloaked Jerusalem in a pall of thick black smoke.

Fire and Rescue chief Dedi Simchi said investigators were still working to determine the cause of the fire.

“The fire broke out as a result of human actions, whether it’s negligence or rashness or malice or arson, we don’t know,” he told reporters.

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