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Thousands evacuated as fires rage in northern Israel

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Firefighters try to extinguish a fire which broke out in Zichron Yaakov, on Nov. 23. Gil Eliyahu / JINIPIX photo

Tens of thousands of people were told to evacuate their homes and businesses in northern Israel as wildfires continue to burn throughout the country.

Thursday was the third day that wildfires blazed unchecked in areas throughout Israel. The fires were fanned by dry conditions and high winds.

The fires burned homes and businesses in Haifa, and residents of at least 11 neighbourhoods were told to evacuate.

Fires near Jerusalem also briefly closed Route 443, a main highway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.  On Tuesday and Wednesday, fires led to the evacuation of thousands from Zichron Ya’akov, located at the southern tip of the Carmel Forest in northern Israel, destroying several homes.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on Thursday spoke by telephone with Russian President Vladimir Putin in order to request assistance in extinguishing the fires. The Prime Minister’s Office in a statement said that Russia offered to immediately send two Beriev be-200 firefighting aircraft capable of carrying more fire-retardant material. On Thursday morning, firefighting airplanes and crews from Greece and Cyprus arrived in Israel.

Police are investigating whether some of the fires are a result of arson. Some arrests have been made in connection with some of the fires, according to police. High levels of pollution have been measured in the areas near the fires.

According to a report in Times of Israel, Netanyhau said that every flame caused deliberately is an act of terror. Arab MKs rejected any notion of arson, according to the report.

High winds are expected throughout Israel throughout Thursday with dry conditions continuing. Fires throughout Israel, fanned by dry conditions and high winds, have led to the evacuation of thousands of people from their homes.

How you can help: United Jewish Appeal has set up a donation page on its website or you can call 416-631-5705. 

Several homes have been destroyed by the conflagrations on Tuesday and Wednesday.

With files from CJN Staff

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