Israeli firefighters are working for a third consecutive day to contain a wildfire that has consumed a large swath of forest west of Jerusalem and threatened several communities.
Israel Fire and Rescue Service said on Tuesday that 110 firefighting teams accompanied by eight aircraft are battling the blaze that consumed about 20sq km (7.7 square miles) of land – making it one of the largest wildfires in the country’s history.
On Monday, Israel asked regional ally Greece for assistance in fighting the fire, and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said he was also reaching out to Cyprus, Italy and France for possible assistance.
Foreign ministry spokesman Lior Haiat said Greece and Cyprus had agreed to send firefighting planes to Israel.
“The Greek foreign minister already said he will help as much as possible,” Lapid wrote on Twitter.
Fire and Rescue chief Dedi Simchi said investigators were still working to determine the cause of the fire.
“The fire broke out as a result of human activity,” he told reporters. “If it was neglect, if it was recklessness, if it was intentional, if it was arson, we don’t know.”
The environmental protection and health ministries warned of “very high levels of air pollution” in several places near Jerusalem. Children and pregnant women were urged not to go outdoors if possible.
Israel and other countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea have had a searing summer with deadly wildfires in Algeria, Cyprus, Greece, and Turkey.
Algeria was the hardest hit with at least 90 people killed in wildfires last week. Morocco and Tunisia have also been affected.