Israel Asking for International Aid in Fighting Fire Threatening Capital

YERUSHALAYIM -
A firefighter runs inside the Israeli village of Givat Yearim during a wildfire in the area, outside Yerushalayim, Monday. (REUTERS/ Ronen Zvulun)

As the giant wildfire threatens the capital and its environs, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett decided on Monday evening to seek international assistance in bringing it under control.

The decision came in response to a request from rescue officials. Bennett ordered the Public Security Ministry and the National Security Council to start work on an aid request, according to media reports.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry said it has contacted Greece, Cyprus, Italy, France, and other nearby countries for help.

A statement from Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s office said he spoke with his Greek counterpart, Nikos Dendias, asking him to send firefighting planes. Dendias said Greece would help as much as it can, according to the statement.

Firefighters work inside the Israeli village of Givat Yearim during a wildfire in the area, on the outskirts of Yerushalayim, Monday. (REUTERS/ Ronen Zvulun)

It was not clear whether the ministry had coordinated its requests with the PMO.

Earlier in the day, the IDF dispatched several transport helicopters to assist in the evacuation of Givat Ye’arim, one of the towns in the path of the fire near Yerushalayim, Channel 12 news reported.

The Prime Minister’s Office said that Bennett instructed the Defense Ministry to provide any necessary help and to see if the Israeli Air Force has additional tools that can be utilized.

At last report, several towns near the Sataf forest area and along the Route 1 highway that connects Yerushalayim and Tel Aviv were under threat, as firefighters deployed along the capital’s southern perimeter to establish a new defensive line to prevent the spread of the fire toward the city itself.

The Likud party criticized the pace of the government’s response, charging that Bennett “should have sought international assistance yesterday. Why is he waiting? He shouldn’t be wasting time, like he did by waiting six weeks to roll out the third corona shot, in order to save lives!”