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PA fire crews join efforts to tame inferno

Dec. 4, 2010 4:23 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 5, 2010 11:31 A.M.)
RAMALLAH (AFP) - Palestinian civil defense forces have joined the huge international operation to tame the massive blaze ravaging northern Israel, the president's office said on Saturday.

"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 President Mahmoud Abbas.

The massive fire, which broke out on Thursday morning, has so far killed 41 people and is still raging out of control, prompting an urgent appeal for international help from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Offers of help poured in, including from the Palestinians, with Netanyahu personally calling Abbas to thank him, the statement said.

"President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday received a telephone call from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressing his gratitude for the help of Palestinian firefighters in putting out the fires raging since the day before yesterday in the Carmel mountains," it said.

Peace talks between Abbas and Netanyahu broke down at the end of September with the resumption of Israeli settlement building, and it was not clear whether the two men had spoken since then.

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