Fires were raging out of control in multiple areas across Israel, Thursday afternoon, forcing nearly 4,000 people to evacuate their homes.
One fire had almost completely destroyed the village of Mevo Modi’im – a Moshav founded by the late songwriter and singer Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach.
Israel is currently gripped by a major heatwave. The expected temperatures on Thursday were: Tel Aviv and Haifa 39C (102F), Jerusalem 38 (100), Kinneret 44 (111), Tzefas 36 (96), Be’er Sheva 44 (111) and Eilat 45 (113).
Firefighters were battling fires in the Ben Shemen Forest near Modiin, forcing some to be evacuated from their homes in nearby Kfar Daniel, Mevo Modiim and Gimzo (between Bnei Brak & Kiryat Sefer). There were homes fully engulfed in flames in Mevo Modiim and Kibbutz Harel.
In Gimzo, firefighters rescued around a dozen Sifrei Torah from a Shul near an out-of-control-fire.
Route 443 (linking Jerusalem and Tel Aviv) was forced closed.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed the Foreign Ministry and Public Security Ministry to seek firefighting aircraft from abroad to help battle the blazes, a spokesman for the premier’s office said.
The Foreign Ministry said Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Croatia had agreed to send help, but the aircraft would only be able to depart for Israel on Friday morning.
There was fire reported in a few different areas near Beit Shemesh, and at least six firefighting planes were requested to assist.
Another fire was burning near Elad, and one in Pisgat Ze’ev (Jerusalem). Earlier, firefighters pulled three children from a burning building in Beitar Illit, and there were fires near the Uzi Narkiss Bridge and in Mevasseret Zion.
Some of these fires are believed to have been started from Lag B’Omer bonfires, which the government warned against lighting due to the extreme heat and dangerous weather conditions sweeping the country.
Magen David Adom said at least 22 people have been hospitalized for smoke inhalation from the wave of brush fires.
צילום עוצמתי של לוחמי האש הנאבקים בחירוף נפש בלב היער כדי להגן על הישוב תרום
צילום: דוברות כב"ה י-ם pic.twitter.com/w5zE3bGzCm
— אלי שלזינגר Eli Shlezinger (@EliShlezinger) May 23, 2019
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) May 23, 2019
היישוב מבוא מודיעים שבלב יער בן שמן, עכשיו. מטוסי כיבוי מנסים לכבות את הלהבות שמשתוללות בתוך היישוב pic.twitter.com/0vgVarGaPa
— Josh Breiner (@JoshBreiner) May 23, 2019
שרב כבד | נוגה, תושבת קיבוץ הראל שפונתה: "פתאום נכנס שוטר לתוך הגן ואמר לנו להתכונן כי יכול להיות שבעוד כמה דקות יפנו את כולנו. ספרנו את הילדים, ווידאנו שהם בסדר, רגועים ושהם לא לחוצים" pic.twitter.com/JHlJ2lEwL2
— החדשות 13 (@newsisrael13) May 23, 2019