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Israel sending firefighters to help battle Cyprus blazes

The rapid response team is headed to the Limassol district.

The Israeli firefighting team being sent to Cyprus, Aug. 7, 2023. Credit: Prime Minister's Office.
The Israeli firefighting team being sent to Cyprus, Aug. 7, 2023. Credit: Prime Minister's Office.

Israel on Monday was sending a firefighting team to help combat massive wildfires raging in Cyprus.

The Israeli rapid response team, which will include two firefighting aircraft and crew, was authorized for immediate departure by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the personal behest of Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides, according to a statement from the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office.

The aircraft will assist a multinational team in extinguishing the huge fires in the Limassol district made worse by a searing heat wave and strong winds.

The mission, dubbed “Wings of Fire,” includes two Air-Tractor firefighting aircraft, four pilots, a trained ground crew, wildfire experts, and equipment including approximately six tons of Israel Fire and Rescue Service flame retardants. 

The assistance come just weeks after Israel joined other countries in assisting Greece in fighting wildfires in several regions near Athens in extreme temperatures exceeding 45 degrees Celsius or 113 degrees Fahrenheit.

The cooperation comes amid burgeoning relations between Israel and both Cyprus and Greece in a variety of fields including energy, defense, tourism, high-tech and cybersecurity. 

The leaders of the three nations are due to meet in Cyprus in September for a trilateral summit that was postponed by Netanyahu’s hospitalization last month.

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