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Palestinian firefighters join the battle against Jerusalem flames

CM 17/08/2021

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The Palestinian Authority has sent four fire engines and 20 firefighters to aid Israel in the ongoing efforts to extinguish the wildfire raging near Jerusalem, Ynet reported Tuesday.
“I thank Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas for the initiative to send firefighter forces to aid Israel today. Solidarity and saving lives are a mutual interest for us all,” tweeted Defense Minister Benny Gantz. 

 The fires, which began Sunday and re-erupted Monday afternoon, are still blazing in specific locations around Jerusalem. Some 14 fire-extinguishing aircraft are operating near Har Eitan, Tsuba and Givat Ye’arim, whose residents were evacuated and are slowly returning to their homes, the Judea Fire Department said in a statement on Tuesday afternoon.
Israel requested international aid when it appeared there was no way to maintain the flames, as wild winds caused the blazes to flare up every few hours. On Tuesday morning Foreign Minister Yair Lapid thanked Greece, Jordan and Cyprus, which all offered help, claiming Israel no longer needed international assistance. 
However, according to the Ynet report, Israel did accept the offer by the PA to send a number of firefighter teams to fight alongside the Israeli divisions. 
Social media immediately responded to the event, with Twitter users sharing pictures of the rare occurrence. 
While some users applauded the collaboration, others criticized the act, with Twitter user Jalal calling it “embarrassing”.
Jerusalem and the surrounding communities are home to over 1.3 million citizens, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics. Israel is home to over 350,000 Muslim and Christian Arabs, some of whom are residents of east Jerusalem. 
Hundreds of firefighters worked overnight at a number of hot spots to extinguish the fires. On Tuesday morning, eight firefighting aircraft and helicopters began operating to fight the flames, with firefighters aiming to make as much progress as possible while winds were low and humidity was high in order to prevent the spread of the fire.Firefighters are also focusing efforts to ensure that the fire is kept away from Hadassah-University Medical Center, Ein Kerem, with Army Radio reporting that officials are concerned that they would be unable to safely evacuate the entire hospital.
Tzvi Joffre contributed to this report.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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