Israel braces for more wildfires as temperatures spike

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel braced for renewed wildfires Friday amid a major heat wave that shows no signs of abating.

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At an emergency briefing, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel had appealed for international help to combat the fires, and that aid has arrived from Greece, Croatia, Italy, Egypt and Cyprus.

Israel "really appreciates" the help, Netanyahu said, singling out Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi for pitching in with two helicopters. He added that several others, including Russia and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, offered aid.

"I am deeply thankful for the readiness of neighbors to help us in a time of crisis, just as we help them," Netanyahu said.

Thousands of people were evacuated from towns and dozens of homes were torched Thursday as fires raged, fueled by high temperatures and dry conditions. Over 500 acres of woodland have burned, said Nitai Zecharya, an Israeli official from the Jewish National Fund, known for planting forests in the country.

Zecharya said that while firefighters had brought most of the blaze under control, officials remained "very stressed" about strong winds fanning flames and "spreading fires to other fronts."

The cause of wildfire remains unclear, but it erupted following the Jewish festival of Lag Ba'Omer, which observers mark with bonfires.

A sweltering heat wave is pushing temperatures in parts of the country up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit, or 43 Celsius.