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Israeli, International Crews Still Struggling To Contain Massive Fire

Israeli firefighters work on the slope of a burning hill near the northern city of Haifa.
Israeli fire officials say they hope to stop the worst wildfire in the country's history by today, three days after the blaze began in a forest in Israel's north.

The fire, which so far has killed 41 people, prompted an international effort with aircraft sent in by Russia, Turkey, Greece, Britain, and France, and an offer of firefighting aid from Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu expressed his gratitude for the offer in remarks to reporters on December 4.

"I had a very good conversation with [Abbas] -- very warm," Netanyahu said. "I expressed my appreciation for this step and for his empathy and for the condolences he sent, as did others, and I told him that we are in the same neighborhood.

"The fire burns once here, and then there. We are actually creating a regional system after we purchase [firefighting] planes -- those planes will join a regional system which I believe can be constructed for the benefit of all the peoples in the region."

Israeli police said two 16-year-old boys had been detained for investigation into whether their carelessness caused the fire, which has destroyed almost half of the country's Camel forest.

Only 7 percent of Israel's land is wooded.

compiled from agency reports