Israel Briefs: Brush Fires During Heatwave Force Evacuations and More

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Netanyahu Becomes Longest-Serving Prime Minister

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu became Israel’s longest-serving premier on July 20, surpassing David Ben-Gurion, JNS.org reported.

That day marked Netanyahu’s 4,876th day in office, counting his tenure from 1996 to 1999 and from 2009 until the present. That eclipses Ben-Gurion, who served from 1948 to 1954, then again from 1955 into 1963. Yitzhak Shamir is the third longest- serving prime minister.

Netanyahu is the world’s 35th longest-reigning leader and 16th-longest among Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development nations since World War II ended. He ranks third among current OECD nation leaders, trailing Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Germany’s Angela Merkel.

A firetruck heads into a brush fire in Israel
Firefighters try to extinguish a forest fire near Moshav Aderet on July 17, 2019. (Photo by Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90 via JNS.org)

Brush Fires During Heatwave Force Evacuations

A heatwave with temperatures as high as 122 degrees and strong winds produced brush fires throughout Israel on July 17, prompting evacuations and damaging several homes, JNS.org reported

Evacuations took place in the towns of Aderet, Neve Michael and Roglit near Jerusalem, Or Yehuda near Tel Aviv, near the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa and in Shavei Shomron in Samaria.

Firefighters had most of the fires under control by day’s end.

Firefighters rescued several residents in Or Yehuda, where five homes caught fire, while Moshav Roglit — which cares for people with disabilities — evacuated its residents to the Shalva Center in Jerusalem.

Ten cars were damaged outside the Malha shopping mall in Jerusalem, when a fire started in a grass-covered parking area. Other fires broke out in the Jerusalem forest, the town of Tomer in the Jordan Valley, the Adam facility in Neot Kedumim, Shoham, Modi’in, Barta’a, Ar’ara and I’billin.

Fire and Rescue Services called up all its firefighters — canceling vacations — to fight the fires. The strong winds hindered operations by keeping firefighting planes and helicopters grounded.

More than 120 people were treated for heat stroke, dehydration, exhaustion and fainting.

Hamas Money Laundering Scheme Busted

Three Palestinian Authority residents were arrested July 16 by Israeli security forces cracking down against a Hamas scheme for transferring money between the Gaza Strip and Judea and Samaria, JNS.org reported.

The scheme involved Hamas terrorists in Gaza using the Al-Haramain travel agency to move money to operatives in Judea and Samaria. Using a network of independent money changers, the source of the funding became obscured, the military said.

The money went for organizational terrorist activity and paid the salaries of Hamas operatives.

European Women’s Lacrosse Championships Open in Israel With Teams From 16 Countries

Teams from 16 different European countries are competing in the 2019 European Lacrosse Federation Women’s European Lacrosse Championship in Israel, which kicked off July 15, JNS.org reported.

More than 300 women will be competing in the event, which lasts for 10 days. The opening ceremonies and one game occurred in Jerusalem, with the remainder set for Netanya.

Lacrosse became a competitive sport in Israel relatively recently, but prior to the tournament, the Israeli women’s national team ranked fourth in Europe and sixth worldwide. Meantime, the men’s national team is second in Europe and seventh worldwide. More than 700 youths play in lacrosse clubs, leagues and clinics throughout Israel, according to the nonprofit Israel Lacrosse Association.

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