The rescue service said that 110 fire brigades and 8 aircraft are working hard to extinguish the raging wildfires.

Israeli firefighters are struggling to contain a wildfire for the third day in a row, which has burned a large area of ​​forest west of Jerusalem and threatened several communities.

The Israeli Fire and Rescue Service said on Tuesday that 110 fire brigades and 8 aircraft are fighting the blaze, which destroyed approximately 20 square kilometers (7.7 square miles) of land, making it the largest wildfire in the country’s history one.

On Monday, Israel asked its regional ally Greece to assist in the fire fighting. Foreign Minister Yail Rapide said he was also seeking possible assistance from Cyprus, Italy and France.

Lior Haiat, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Greece and Cyprus have agreed to send firefighting aircraft to Israel.

“The Greek Foreign Minister has stated that he will provide as much help as possible,” Lapid wrote on Twitter.

In recent years, hot and dry weather and short winters have made the wooded hills near Jerusalem particularly prone to wildfires. The fire that began on Sunday shrouded Jerusalem in thick black smoke.

Dedi Simchi, head of fire and rescue, said investigators are still working to determine the cause of the fire.

“The fire is the result of human activities,” he told reporters. “If it was negligence, if it was reckless, if it was deliberate, if it was arson, we don’t know.”

The Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Ministry of Health warned that “very serious air pollution” exists in several places near Jerusalem. Urge children and pregnant women to avoid outdoor activities as much as possible.

The fire broke out on Sunday, pungent smoke emanating from the holy city and its iconic Dome of the Rock, forcing a mental hospital to evacuate.

The firefighters managed to control the fire before the strong wind blew through the flames in the woodland. The police drove through the community on the path of the fire and used loudspeakers to urge residents to leave their homes.

Simchi told reporters that the scale of the fire was similar to the fire that broke out in northern Israel in 2010, which was the largest in the country’s history. These fires destroyed 24,000 dunams (2,400 hectares) of land.

Israel and other countries bordering the Mediterranean have experienced a hot summer, where deadly wildfires broke out. Algeria, Cyprus, Greece, and Turkey.

Algeria was the hardest hit, with at least 90 people killed in wildfires last week. Morocco and Tunisia are also affected.

Thick smoke from wildfire near Givat Yearim in the suburbs of Jerusalem [Ammar Awad/Reuters]


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