Israel — In a strong show of humanitarian gesture, Turkey, despite its marred relations with Israel, rushed to help the Jewish state fight the bushfire being termed as its largest-ever.
The bushfire that has killed 42 people so far raged uncontrollably Friday night, taunting efforts by exhausted fire teams to battle the blaze as it threatened areas previously untouched by the flames.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while describing the blaze as “a catastrophe, the likes of which we have not yet known”, had appealed to Russia, Cyprus, Greece and Italy for help in putting out the fire, which began on the slopes of the Carmel hill, southeast of Israel’s port city of Haifa, and rapidly spread.
Following the appeal, foreign firefighting aircraft began landing at the Ramat Aviv military airport in northern Israel, with two planes from Greece and Bulgaria already on the ground. Around 20 more from other countries including Turkey, Cyprus and Spain were expected to join throughout the day.
Four Greek planes and a Hercules cargo plane from Bulgaria with some 150 firefighters on board joined the effort. Countries such as Turkey and Cyprus sent around 20 planes and helicopters and other equipment arrived Friday.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Israel Radio that Israel had turned to Germany for help, which in turn had asked Turkey for assistance, prompting Ankara to send two planes – despite its marred relations with Israel.
Turkey-Israeli relations soared after Israeli military attacked earlier this year an aid flotilla that was sent to Gaza to help the people suffering due to the blockade.