Due to a severe heatwave, over 1,000 separate fires destroyed towns and forests, burning down at least 50 houses in central Israel and nearly 2,000 acres of forest, with some of the worst damage occurring in the Ben Shemen Forest in central Israel. Officials are looking into electrical cable faults, embers from Lag B’Omer bonfires, arson and incendiary balloons as possible causes of the fires.
Thanks to a collaboration involving Israel’s National Fire and Rescue Service, which included 12 of Israel’s firefighting planes from Egypt, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece and Italy, and four Palestinian firefighting companies, more than 1,000 firefighters – and some-300 volunteers – were able to tackle the blaze. Altogether, the aircraft made a total of 120 sorties.
In light of this, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered for an increase in aerial firefighting squadron to meet the demand for night operations. “I would like to take this opportunity to thank the leaders of the many countries that sent us aerial assistance,” he added.