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Israel is Burning!

Two people have been arrested over a forest fire which has claimed at least 42 lives in Israel.

They are being questioned about a campfire authorities believe may have sparked the worst tragedy of its kind in Israel’s history.

“We’re talking negligence at the moment,” said Police spokesman, Micky Rosenfeld.

Officials said the blaze was likely to have been started by a picnic fire. The blaze, which broke out Thursday (December 2, 2010), tore through the Carmel Forest above the northern city of Haifa. Thirty-seven of those killed were prison officers, whose bus was caught in the flames as they tried to reach a nearby jail to help evacuate it.

Foreign firefighter aircraft, including UK helicopters, have joined in the battle to contain the fire which was still burning out of control yesterday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called the fire an “unprecedented disaster” as an estimated 13,000 acres have burned so far.

More than 15,000 people have been evacuated and 42 people have been reported killed so far including 40 prison security personnel who were killed when the bus they were traveling on veered off the road and exploded into flames.

A spokesperson for For Zion’s Sake Ministries, says, “Israel is suffering the worst drought since it’s rebirth in 1948 which has of course added to the dryness of the forests.

“Also adding to the menacing fires are the strong Shirav winds that have been fanning the blaze and enabling it to spread almost reaching Haifa University.”

Meanwhile, in a rare appeal for international aid, Prime Minister Netanyahu has urgently requested assistance from Russia, Greece, Italy and Cyprus for firefighting forces as the flames enveloping Northern Israel blaze out of control.

“For Zion’s Sake Ministries” says that it is committed to assisting in this emergency by participating in the evacuation of those in immediate danger and by providing food, shelter and spiritual support to those in immediate need.

“We also will be involved in the rebuilding of the affected areas and financially blessing those families who have lost their homes to fire,” added the spokesperson.

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Note: Dan Wooding is in Israel at this time as part of an Evangelical Press Association media tour organized by the Israel Ministry of Tourism.

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