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Israeli fire rages on despite huge international effort

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Israeli fire rages on despite huge international effort


Firefighters and planes from several European countries have been helping Israel try to tackle the worst forest fire in its history, but the huge effort has still failed to bring it under control.

The formidable military strength of Israel’s air force has been compared to the country’s inability to deal with the disaster.

At least 16 nations have responded to the appeal for help.

The prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked them before heading north to visit the area.

Visiting a Turkish contingent, he said he hoped relations would now improve following the fallout from the Israeli storming of an aid ship bound for Gaza.

No doubt remembering the nine Turkish activists who died, the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that would not be so easy.

“It’s important not to confuse the fire with other issues,” he said. “Our demands from Israel are well known: we’ve already said that our relations will not get better unless our demands, such as a formal apology and compassion, are fulfilled.”

The first funerals have been held in Israel of the fire’s 42 known victims. Most were young trainee prison guards, men and women, who died when their bus was engulfed by flames, en route to evacuate a threatened prison.

The Palestinian Authority has reportedly sent specially equipped lorries to help fight the fire.

An initial inquiry has indicated that negligence rather than arson was to blame for starting it.

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