Officials disagree over where best to deploy the Boeing supertanker, delaying firefighting efforts.
Ultimately, Jerusalem police chief Yoram Halevi dispatches the converted Boeing 747 plane to the Jerusalem hills area, close to Route 1, Israel’s central east-west highway, in order to stem any fresh outbreaks of fire with pre-emptive dousing.
It flies its three first sorties over areas including Nataf, which have been devastated by fires in the past few days.
A top official in the Israel Fire and Rescue Service had opposed using the plane, saying that firefighters are succeeding in containing fires across the country and there is no area where the supertanker needs to be deployed at this time.
The supertanker is the 21st plane to arrive in Israel to assist firefighters battling multiple blazes across the country.
Overnight Friday, a Cypriot plane brought 69 firefighters to help fire service ground forces.