Photo Credit: Meir Vaknin/Flash90
Israeli firefighters try to extinguish a fire which broke out in a large area in Gita, southern Israel, on November 13, 2021.

Israel’s firefighters battled hundreds of blazes across the country over the weekend, many of them the result of arson, as the country experienced unseasonal and extremely dry weather.

A spokesperson for the fire department stated that hundreds of families were evacuated from their homes because of the fires, and in some of the arenas, homes were damaged and cars were burned.

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No injuries were recorded in any of the incidents.

Israel is experiencing its driest autumn in decades, and possibly in recorded history, with strong winds that intensify their mobility and force.

The fire department prepared for the dangerous weather ahead of time, and Fire and Rescue Commissioner Dedi Simchi stated that “early deployment of operational forces and determination of commanders and firefighters prevented greater damage to life and property.”

According to data from the Operations Division, firefighters were rushed to deal with 411 fires, of which 212 were in open areas (52%).

Most of the fires broke out in the northern districts where 63 fires were extinguished, and in the coastal district where 45 fire incidents were extinguished in open areas.

The Air Firefighting Squadron began operating at first light at high intensity and at full capacity. The planes dropped a total of 34,500 liters of extinguishing agents from the air and carried out 100 sorties around the country.

An initial inspection by fire investigators in the various arenas, and especially the large ones, shows that some of them were caused by arson.

“The fires are man-made. Our forces are investigating the arson and I believe we will be able to get to the cause and who committed it,” stated Simchi.

On Sunday morning, firefighters were deployed near the northern city of Ma’alot to fight a fire in a nearby forest. At least 25 crews and 6 aircraft operated at the site.

The forecast shows that a dramatic change in weather is not expected.

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Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.