After fires, heavy rainfall brings flooding to central Israel


(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 Hain some 15 miles east of Tel Aviv. The downpour resulted in the flooding of several residential homes in the nearby city of Petach Tikvah, whose center is largely blocked for traffic, Ynet reported.

Rescue forces evacuated a disabled woman from Petach Tikvah from her flooded apartment, which she could not leave because water had made the elevator unusable.

The 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 had 3.1 inches, Army Radio reported.

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 property damage. No one was killed in the fires, though several people were injured.

A third of the fires recorded in that time frame were deliberately started by arsonists, 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.

Mount Hermon, with its ski resort at the northern tip of the Golan Heights, received 5.9 inches of rain and snow.

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