Wildfires threaten to cause national emergency amid Israel heatwave

May 24 (UPI) — As they are already dealing with multiple wildfires, Israeli fire officials say they’re concerned about the potential for more as the weather warms.

The danger could lead to a national emergency as temperatures are forecast above 110 degrees near Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and nearly 120 degrees in the Dead Sea and Jordan Valley.

“The challenge is still ahead of us,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

Multiple fires have already forced evacuations of dozens of homes and 3,500 people. The village of Mevo Modi’im in the Ben Shemen forest east of Tel Aviv received some of the worst damage, with 40 of the town’s 50 homes blackened by fire. One of the fires threatened Kibbutz Harel Thursday, which authorities believe was caused by a falling electric line.

Firefighter spokesman Udi Gal said Friday crews have stopped the fires’ advances, and the blaze in Kibbutz Harel was mostly under control. All available firefighters and several air tankers were mobilized.

Israel said it’s received help from Egypt, Cyprus, Greece, Canada, Croatia and Italy. Netanyahu has thanked them for their help and praised the fire crews for doing an “excellent” job.

Israeli officials are also on guard for more arson attacks in Gaza, which typically increase on Fridays.

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