Israel on Friday experienced its hottest recorded day ever — meaning in at least 100 years.
The southern coastal resort city of Eilat recorded an unprecedented 48.9°C (120°F) high, Channel 12 reported.
After Thursday saw Jerusalem record its highest ever temperature, Friday’s figures edged that one out, setting a new record of 42.8°C (109°F). The current heatwave has been unprecedented for Jerusalem, which usually enjoys slightly cooler weather than the rest of the country thanks to its location and relatively high altitude at some 800 meters (2,600 feet) above sea level.
Extreme humidity was reported in coastal cities throughout the country while dry-spells were recorded in the Jordan Valley and other desert areas.
Emergency medics scrambled to keep up with nearly 200 heat-related injuries nationwide.
In light of the heat, the authorities slightly eased a COVID-19 restriction: The government’s coronavirus czar Ronni Gamzu told Channel 12 that while there would be no change to policies regarding mask-wearing in light of the heatwave, those who find themselves alone at a park or beach would be allowed to remove their mask.
The Israel Meteorological Service said temperatures throughout the country were expected to drop slightly on Saturday before tapering off further in the coming days, but would remain above the seasonal average. Temperatures are forecast to again spike on Thursday, when they will reach the upper 30s Celsius in Jerusalem, and higher elsewhere.
Magen David Adom medics treated 186 people across the country for heat-related injuries from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Friday. Fifty-six of those people had fainted, and 17 of them suffered dehydration, including a 57-year-old woman who was evacuated via helicopter from a hike in the Golan Heights to Poria Hospital in the north in moderate condition.
Two other Israelis were evacuated to hospitals in critical condition due to heatstroke, including a 50-year-old man who was found lying unconscious on the street in the northern town of Kiryat Shmona.
In the West Bank’s Wadi Qelt nature reserve, medics responded to two hikers who also dehydrated while out under the desert sun. However, they did not require further medical attention, Magen David Adom said in a statement.
In the day’s most serious incident, a 19-year-old youth died after collapsing at an outdoor nature party at the Pura Nature Reserve in southern Israel. He was rushed to the nearby Soroka Hospital in critical condition and doctors were forced to pronounce his death shortly thereafter. Alcohol and drugs were found in the young man’s system and medics believe the combination of those substances along with the extreme heat are what caused his death.
Separately, thousands of residents from the towns of Pardesiya, Kfar Yona and the surrounding area in central Israel were left sweltering without air conditioning Friday afternoon after power outages were reported.