Over 75,000 people were evacuated from the Israeli city of Haifa this week after a series of devastating wildfires have burned around the country for four days, causing the destruction of hundreds of trees and homes.
The fires have been fueled by unseasonably dry, hot weather and strong easterly winds.
12 people have also been arrested by police for sparking or inciting at least some of the hundreds of fires that have threatened Israeli towns and forests.
This morning, officials said that 600 homes had been damaged in Haifa, some 37 of them destroyed. There are now no longer any major conflagrations in the city.
With fires burning in the forests west of Jerusalem, around Haifa, on central and northern hilltops and in parts of the West Bank, the government sought assistance from neighbouring countries to tackle the conflagration.
Several countries sent aircraft to help tackle the blazes, including Cyprus, Turkey, Greece, Russia, Italy, Croatia, and France. The Palestinian Authority sent a team of firefighters and firetrucks to help put out the fires.
Britain offered assistance in fighting the fires, including the manpower of HMS Bulwark which was docked in Haifa this week. The UK’s Ambassador to Israel, H.E. David Quarrey said: “Thoughts with all those affected by the fires in Israel. We’ve offered assistance, and stand ready to help”.
On social media, some Arabs and Palestinians celebrated the fires and the hashtag #Israelisburning was trending on Twitter.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday vowed to treat those who are behind part of the wave of fires as “terrorists”.
A 24-year-old Bedouin from southern Israel was arrested today on suspicion of inciting people to deliberately start fires.
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon visited the stricken city of Haifa and authorised officials to hand out cash advances to those who were left homeless and without money.