After fires, heavy rainfall brings flooding to central Israel

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — Heavy rainfall in Israel’s north and center ended dry weather conditions that had helped spread fires throughout the country, but flooded several residential homes in low areas.

The downpour Thursday, the first this winter, caused the Yarkon river to overflow, flooding the Mekorot Hayarkon park near Rosh Ha’in some 15 miles east of Tel Aviv. The downpour resulted in the flooding of several residential homes in the nearby city of Petah Tikva, whose center is largely blocked for traffic, Ynet reported.

Rescue forces evacuated a disabled woman from Petah Tikvah from her flooded apartment, which she couldn’t leave because water had made the elevator unusable.

Water level in the Kinneret, or the Sea of Galilee, rose by 1.5 inches in the 24 hours that preceded Friday morning. In total, the north saw 2.7 inches of rainfall and the center was quenched by 3.1 inches of precipitation, Army Radio reported.

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The rainfall ended a 10-day stretch during which Israel saw at least 100 fires that ravaged the north and the Jerusalem area, leading to the evacuation of 100,000 people and tens of millions of dollars in damage to property. No one was killed in the fire, though several people were injured.

A third of the fires recorded in that timeframe were deliberately started by arsonist, according to police. Some 23 people, all of them Arab, have been arrested in connection with the fires. Many countries, including the United States, sent firefighting teams and equipment to help put out the blazes.

The Hermon mountain, with its ski resort at the northern tip of the Golan heights, received 5.9 inches of rain and snow.

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