Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday night to thank him for sending firefighting teams and trucks to help Israel put out fires.

A statement released by the PM’s Office said that Netanyahu “appreciates the fact that Jews and Arabs have opened their homes for victims of the blazes.”

The rare talk between Israeli and Palestinian leaders came as a string of massive fires have been raging for five days in Israel and its neighbors including the West Bank, Egypt and Lebanon.

On Friday, Netanyahu and other right-wing leaders pointed the finger at Israeli Arabs, suggesting they committed “arson-terrorism.”

In response, Palestinian leaders accused Netanyahu of “inciting” against Israel’s Arab minority.

On Thursday, the Palestinian National Authority sent eight firefighting trucks through the Gilboa Mountains to help Israel fight the massive fire in Haifa, which has consumed about 9,880 acres of land and prompted the evacuation of a quarter of the city’s population.

Overnight between Friday and Saturday, the Palestinians sent another two firefighting trucks from Ramallah to help put out a fire in the Jewish West Bank settlement of Halamish, officials with the Israeli Fire and Rescue Service said.

The fire has damaged at least 40 settlement homes and lightly injured four.

Greece, Cyprus, Russia, Croatia, Turkey and Italy have also sent crews and planes to assist Israel in its efforts to fight fires. On Saturday afternoon, a Boeing-747 Supertanker, the world’s largest firefighting plane, was put to work in an area near the main highway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Experts said an unusually dry and windy weather condition has helped stoke the fires that broke out on Tuesday and spread across half of the country.

 Source: Xinhua/



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