JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Wildfires in wooded hills near Jerusalem were contained on Tuesday, the Israeli fire brigade said, after crews waged a three-day battle joined by Palestinian firefighters and the Israeli Air Force.
No serious injuries were reported in the worst fires in the Jerusalem area for years.
Evacuated residents of several outlying small communities were able to return home on Monday, and Israel withdrew on Tuesday a request for international air support to fight the fires, which burned more than 4,200 acres (17,000 hectares).
National Fire and Rescue chief Dedi Simchi said in broadcast remarks after nightfall on Tuesday that the flames had been “fully contained.”
Several fire trucks from the Palestinian Authority (PA) took part in operations on Tuesday. Israeli media and leaders highlighted the assistance, but official Palestinian news outlets made no immediate mention of the aid.
“I would like to thank PA Chairman (Mahmoud) Abbas for his initiative to send the firefighters who came to assist Israel today. Mutual care and saving human lives are common interests to us all,” Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said in a statement.
The PA exercises limited self-rule in the Israeli-occupied West Bank under 1990s interim peace deals with Israel. U.S.-brokered talks on a final agreement collapsed seven years ago.
A U.S.-made, Israeli Air Force C-130J “Super Hercules” transport plane joined smaller aircraft on Tuesday in dumping chemical retardant on the wildfires.
(Reporting by Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Mark Heinrich)