Heatwave hits Israel on Tisha B’Av fast, during period of intense global weather

Temperatures rise across country, peaking Sunday and Monday, along with high humidity; extreme heat will start subsiding on Tuesday

Illustrative: Israelis enjoy the beach in Tel Aviv on a hot summer day, on July 6, 2021. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Illustrative: Israelis enjoy the beach in Tel Aviv on a hot summer day, on July 6, 2021. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

As western Europe experiences its worst storms and floodings in living memory, Israel, by contrast, has been going through an intense heatwave that will peak on Sunday and Monday.

After a hot week and weekend, temperatures further rose on Sunday throughout the country, with some 60% humidity in coastal areas and extreme heat in the Jordan Valley and the Arava region.

It coincided with the Jewish fast of Tisha B’Av, which mourns the destruction of the temples. The fast, during which observant Jews refrain from eating or drinking, began on Saturday evening and lasts roughly 24.5 hours until Sunday night.

Highs on Sunday were 34°C/93°F in Jerusalem, 30°C/86°F in Tel Aviv, 38°C/100°F in Beersheba, 40°C/104°F in Tiberias and 43°C/109°F in Eilat.

While far from record-breaking, the heatwave, combined with the devastating storms in Europe and extremely hot temperatures recorded several weeks ago in the United States, Canada and elsewhere, is seen by experts as another example of phenomena exacerbated by climate change.

Temperatures will drop slightly on Tuesday and return to seasonal levels on Wednesday, after which another heatwave is forecast.

Health authorities have issued advisories in light of the expected extreme weather. The Magen David Adom ambulance service had called on those fasting to drink large quantities of water beforehand and said that the sick and elderly should consult with their doctors before deciding to fast.

The Health Ministry urged people, in particular the elderly and those with preexisting conditions, to stay out of the sun, stay hydrated and avoid unnecessary physical exertion during the “extreme” heat.

“The Israeli summer has many pleasant sides to it, but now we are entering the more difficult period in terms of heat and humidity,” Israel Meteorological Service forecaster Oren Davidoff told the Walla news site.

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