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Palestinians join efforts to tame huge Israeli fires

In a rare phone call, the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas expressed condolences over the fire northern Israel with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

AFP, Reuters, Saturday 4 Dec 2010
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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas expressed condolences in a rare telephone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday over the deadly fires raging in northern Israel, Israeli officials said.

The two leaders were not believed to have spoken since they last met in September when U.S.-backed peace talks stalled in a spat over Israeli settlement construction.

A statement from Netanyahu's office said Abbas "expressed his condolences to the people of Israel on those who died in the fire and said he would be happy to provide any necessary help."

On the ground the Palestinian civil defense forces have joined the huge international operation to tame the massive blaze ravaging northern Israel.

"The three units of the Palestinian civil defense were sent to assist in extinguishing the fires in the Carmel," said a statement from the office of Palestinian president.

The fire in which 42 Israelis were killed, ravaging forests outside the port of Haifa for three days now, caught Israel without enough firefighting equipment, forcing Netanyahu to seek foreign help from about a dozen countries.

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