Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu directed the Foreign Ministry to reach out to nearby countries for “immediate” assistance in putting out the hundreds of fires that were ravaging the country Thursday evening، destroying dozens of houses and forcing the evacuation of some 3،500 from their homes، The Times of Israel reported.
Later، the Foreign Ministry said Italy، Greece، Cyprus and Croatia had agreed to send help، but the aircraft would only be able to depart for Israel on Friday morning. Hours earlier، Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan held a situational assessment and instructed fire authorities to prepare for the possibility that a national emergency be declared، with Friday’s temperatures expected to eclipse 100° F throughout the country. Erdan later told Channel 12 news that with the exception of several fires near Gaza caused by arson balloons، there were no indications so far of arson. Erdan warned that officials were expecting Friday to be even worse as the heatwave reached its peak. Temperatures hit 37° C (99° F) in Tel Aviv، 43° C (110° F) in Beersheba in the Negev and 50° C (122° F) in the Arava region.
The largest fire was in the Ben Shemen Forest and around the 250-member community of Mevo Modiim in central Israel.
A police official told Channel 13 news that the blaze had largely destroyed the town established by singer and rabbi Shlomo Carlebach in 1975.
Meanwhile، residents of nearby Gimzo evacuated Torah scrolls from the community synagogue as the flames approached.
In addition to Mevo Modiin and Gizmo، a fire service spokesman said that Israelis had been evacuated from the central towns of Tarum، Neot Kedumim، Kfar Daniel، Kfar Uriya، Karmia and Harel. He added that forces were preparing to evacuate thousands of more Israelis، including ones in the central towns of Shilat، Kfar Ruth and Lapid.
In the West Bank، police evacuated some 30 families from their homes in the Beit Hagai settlement as a fire approached the community.