Wildfires are currently raging across the Holy Land, threatening many villages and families near Jerusalem. The Times of Israel's Raphael Ahren reports on the fires that are being driven by heavy winds, and are suspected to be the result of arson:
Raging fires have destroyed homes and caused mass evacuations in several different sites across Israel over the last 36 hours, spurred by unusually high winds and dry conditions.
Officials warned it was going to get worse as weather conditions deteriorate in the next few days, prompting the call for outside help amid fears local firefighting resources would be unable to cope. Planes are expected from Greece, Cyprus, Croatia, Russia, Italy and possibly Turkey.
Israel had been forced to request foreign assistance before, with teams from Greece, Cyprus and Russia helping out during the 2010 massive forest fire on Mount Carmel, just south of Haifa. The deaths of 44 people made it the gravest blaze in the country’s history.
Since then, Israel has boosted its firefighting resources and now has its own fleet of planes, but they are struggling to deal with blazes raging in several different locations from northern Israel to the Jerusalem region.
On Wednesday they were battling a large fire in the Jerusalem hills, which forced residents of the village of Nataf, west of the capital, to evacuate their homes. Firefighters were battling the blaze, which had been stoked by strong winds, with 25 teams and four planes.
Children at local schools and some of Nataf’s hundreds of residents were evacuated to the community center in the adjacent village of Abu Ghosh. Nearby, residents of Neve Ilan and Mevo Horon were put on an evacuation alert if the flames continued to spread.
The Fellowship is already on the ground, providing aid to those who have been displaced. Please pray for the safety of those in the fires' paths, and we will update you with any news.