Forest fire near Jerusalem grows due to shifting winds, may spread to Highway 1

Police have increased security in forested areas across the country amid suspicions that many of the fires were arson acts.
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Authorities are concerned that the forest fire in the Jerusalem area may reach Highway 1 after shifting winds on Wednesday evening caused it to increase. Meanwhile, another fire broke out in the settlement of Talmon in the West Binyamin region. Police have evacuated some of its residents from their homes.

A total of 220 forest fires broke out over Wednesday all across Israel. By order of Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Police Chief Roni Alsheikh, police have increased security in forested areas amid suspicions that many of these fires were started deliberately.

Fire fighters have managed to gain control over the fires in Zichron Yaakov and Nataf, though they are staying put in case one of them is renewed overnight.

Cyprus and Greece have agreed to send planes to Israel in order to assist the fire-fighting efforts.

"Our primary concern is to save lives," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. "Saving property is secondary. Property can be replaced, but lives cannot be restored. Therefore I call upon all Israeli citizens who are in the path of these flames to do exactly as they are instructed by the authorities."

According to a senior security official, Thursday is expected to be even more challenging as winds will grow and humidity will drop even more.

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