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Foreign Planes Arrive in Israel to Help Beat Back Wildfires

© East News / AP Photo/Tatan SyuflanaRussia's Beriev Be-200 amphibious aircraft
Russia's Beriev Be-200 amphibious aircraft - Sputnik International
Several countries have mobilized to answer Israel’s plea for help in efforts to contain the disastrous wildfires that have broken in a number of spots across the state.

The fires began in Zichron Ya'akov on Tuesday and have since spread throughout the country, pushed by extreme dryness and strong winds and forcing tens of thousands of people to be evacuated from their homes.

Wildfire on France’s Oleron Island (file) - Sputnik International
At Least 1,500 People Evacuated Due to Wildfire on France’s Oleron Island
Due to a shortage of firefighting aircraft, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu requested foreign aid to extinguish the devastating blazes. Many countries have come to the rescue, including Greece, Cyprus, Croatia and Russia.

Firefighting planes and teams from Greece and Cyprus landed in Israel early on Thursday and joined the battle with wildfire over Haifa, Israel's third-largest city.

Two of Russia's giant Beriev be-200 aircrafts were also sent today to assist with the operation. Six years ago this type of plane, which can land on water and carry 12 tons of fire retardant, participated in firefightings effort during the Carmel Forest Fires in Israel.

President of France Francois Hollande had reportedly instructed his interior minister to dispatch three firefighting aircraft "as soon as possible." Furthermore, Italy and Turkey offered to help Israel without being asked.

According to Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, the prompt multinational aid is a sign of Israel's close ties with its neighbors.  

"The mobilization of neighboring countries to help us so quickly demonstrates the depth of relations between those countries and Israel," he said, as cited by Times of Israel.

The fires are the worst to hit Israel since 2010, when more than 40 people died. Police suspect negligence and possibly arson as causes of the disaster.

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