Fire near Jerusalem forces village evacuations
Residents of several villages on the outskirts of Jerusalem were evacuated Sunday due to a large forest fire, Israeli police said.
Firefighters supported by firefighting aircraft were working to put out the blaze, as smoke was visible from much of the city.
The fire threatened the villages of Beit Meir, Shoeva and Ramat Raziel, west of Jerusalem, police said in a statement.
The villages lie close to the main highway linking Jerusalem with Israel's commercial capital Tel Aviv.
Residents were evacuated and several roads were blocked, the police added.
"The fire is spreading rapidly due to strong winds," a spokesman for the Jerusalem fire service said in a statement, adding that it had called on firefighters from several regions to assist.
A fire that broke out in the same area over a week ago was quickly brought under control.
The cause of Sunday's fire was as yet undetermined.
Several other Mediterranean countries have seen forest fires amid soaring temperatures in recent weeks, including Greece, Turkey and Algeria.