The cause of the fire has not yet been determined, but arson has not been ruled out.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the fire as a "catastrophe the likes of which we have never known. We will have to draw many lessons in order to deal with catastrophes of this kind but right now, everything must be about saving lives."
The prime minister praised the firefighters' work and said they were handling the fire with courage and dedication. He then travelled to the site of the fire.
It was also reported that the prime minister spoke to the leaders of Russia, Italy, Greece and Cyprus and appealed to them for assistance in extinguishing the fire by asking them to send fire extinguishing planes. Story here and here. Yahoo News is also reporting on the fire in Israel.
Updates with related stories: Arson Suspected in Mt. Carmel, Israel Raging Fires
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