Courtesy of JNS. Photo credit: Ayal Margolin/Flash90
People play in the springs and waterfalls of the Snir Stream, one of the tributaries to the Jordan River in northern Israel, May 22, 2023

(JNS) — Soaring temperatures sent Israelis to seek the comfort of air conditioning or shade while children played in water.

The highest temperatures of 38°-43°C (100°-109°F) were recorded in southern Israel and the Jordan Valley.

The heat wave, which is affecting the eastern Mediterranean region as well as the Balkans and much of Europe, is expected to continue into the middle of next week.

The Health Ministry urged the elderly and chronically ill to avoid exposure to the sun and called on the public to drink lots of water to avoid dehydration and heatstroke. Authorities also banned lighting fires in public areas and placed an aerial firefighting squadron on special alert.

At the Zoological Center Tel Aviv-Ramat Gan, aka the Ramat Gan Safari, animals were given special popsicles to beat the heat. Bears received ice cubes containing fish, lions were given frozen ostrich eggs, and other animals were given various frozen fruit treats.

The hot front, nicknamed “Cleon,” would most likely reach its peak on Thursday, meteorologists said.

In a statement, the Israel Meteorological Service announced that lighting fires in parks and reserves would be prohibited due to the danger of sparking wildfires. The Judean Desert will be closed to visitors altogether, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority said.

On Sunday, the Noga electricity management company presented a plan to the Energy Ministry to avoid nationwide power outages during the heatwave.

Last month, amid similar weather, some 300,000 homes throughout the Jewish state were left without electricity.