Palestinian firefighters join Israelis to tackle blaze near Jerusalem

115 Israeli teams have been brought in to extinguish the wildfire

Palestinian firefighters joined their Israeli counterparts on Tuesday to battle a blaze raging near Jerusalem, one of the latest wildfires to hit the Mediterranean.

“I would like to thank PA Chairman [Mahmoud] Abbas for … his initiative to send the firefighters who came to assist Israel today,” Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz wrote on Twitter.

The wildfire west of Jerusalem ignited on Sunday and has destroyed swathes of forest, sending smoke drifting across the city.

Roads have been closed and urban areas evacuated, although no serious injuries have been reported.

A total of 115 Israeli firefighting teams have been brought in to tackle the blaze, the country’s fire and rescue service said, as well as 10 aircraft.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry said it was in discussions with Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy and other nations about possible international support. Foreign Minister Yair Lapid subsequently said such assistance was no longer needed.

The Palestinian Authority, led by President Mahmoud Abbas, did not immediately comment on sending firefighters from the occupied West Bank.

Despite their fractious relationship, the PA and Israel co-operate on a number of areas including security.

The Jerusalem area is the latest to be hit by devastating wildfires which have raged across the Mediterranean in recent weeks, hitting countries including Algeria, Greece and Turkey.

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Updated: August 17th 2021, 3:52 PM