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Wildfire (illustrative)

A deadly heat wave that so far has taken 600 lives in Europe is rapidly spreading into the Mediterranean Basin towards Israel.

In Greece, wildfires are burning in Feriza, just 31 miles southeast of Athens, and near Rethymno, where seven villages were evacuated along the northern coast of Crete.


Several villages were likewise evacuated in northern Morocco, where fires raced through four provinces. One village was destroyed, and one person died in the flames.

In Italy the government has declared a state of emergency in the Po Valley.

Wildfires Already Started in Israel
Earlier this month, a wildfire blazed its way through vegetation between the towns of Manara and Yiftah in northern Israel, closing off Route 886 due to the heavy smoke.

At least 20 firefighting teams, four planes and additional personnel from the Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) worked together on July 2 to stop the spread of the fire.

A similar spate of wildfires broke out last month near the Jerusalem suburb of Mevaseret Zion, and other nearby communities of Kiryat Anavim and Beit Nekofa. Wildfire was also reported near the community of Har Adar, in Samaria.

It was not clear what started the fires in any of the areas.

“Once a wildfire spreads, it can destroy thousands of acres of forest and woodlands,” KKL-JNF pointed out on its website.

“Rehabilitating the burnt areas is a complex, extended process – even after the trees grow back, it can take many more years for the ecosystem to recuperate and return to its former state.”

Hundreds Die, Thousands of Acres Burn in Europe
In Europe, people are dying and tens of thousands of acres of land are being burnt to ash as a result of the current lethal heat wave.

Heatwaves are becoming more frequent and more intense and lasting longer due to climate change. Temperatures this week leaped into the forties Celsius, over 100 Farenheit.

In the United Kingdom on Saturday the government held a meeting of its ‘Cobra’ emergency committee after Britain’s national weather service issued its first-ever “red warning” for extreme heat for Monday and Tuesday.

The country’s Health Security Agency increased its heat-health warning from Level 3 to Level 4, which indicates a national emergency. Temperatures are forecast to reach between 98.6 Farenheit (37 Celsius) and possibly break the country’s record of 101.7 F (38.7 C).

“It is very likely that there will be a risk to life, with substantial disruption to travel, energy supplies and possibly widespread damage to property and infrastructure,” the Met Office (meteorological service) said on its website.

Thousands of firefighters have been battling wildfires in Portugal, Spain and France, with tens of thousands of people evacuated in the face in the flames.

In France, where fires have leveled 25,000 acres of land, the weather service forecast sweltering temperatures of up to 41 degrees Celsius (105.8 Farenheit) in some parts of the country. New heat waves are predicted for Monday as well.

In Portugal, there were 238 more deaths recorded between July 7 and 13 than in comparable periods in previous years, according to the Lusa news agency.

Temperatures in Portugal jumped to 47 degrees Celsius (116 Farenheit) and are expected to remain above 40 C (104 F) before finally dropping next week.

In Spain, temperatures were also above 40 C (104 F), (45 C / 113 F) on Friday) leading to the deaths of at least 360 people, according to the La Vanguardia newspaper, which cited the state-run Carlos III Health Institute in a report on Saturday. Spontaneous forest fires in the country so far this year have destroyed 75,000 acres of land.


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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.