Firefighters plant trees in fire-ravaged Jerusalem area in symbolic event

31 August 2021

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ISRAEL – The leaders of the fight against the Jerusalem-area fire that broke out on August 15 planted olive trees on Monday in a special event to thank the forces who fought the flames – And to begin the arduous restoration process in the spirit of the new Jewish year.

The five leaders who planted the trees were Niv Weizel, head of the Mateh Yehuda Regional Council; Tafsar Nissim Twito, regional commander of the Fire and Rescue Services; Asst.-Ch. Doron Turjeman, Jerusalem regional police commander; Uri Shacham, MDA regional commander; and Col. Shlomi Ben-Yair, the IDF Home Front Command’s Jerusalem regional commander.

The five — Who worked for 52 hours straight during the fire and managed to contain it without loss of life — Planted the trees in Ramat Raziel, in honor of the new Jewish year and as a symbol of hope that the thousands of dunam destroyed by the fire will one day bloom again.

The six towns that were damaged by the fire were Ramat Raziel, Ksalon, Shoeva, Givat Yearim, Beit Meir and Tzuba.

“Two weeks ago a giant fire hit Mateh Yehuda, which passed without the loss of life thanks to the thousands of firefighters, policemen, soldiers, paramedics, and regional municipality workers who took part in the effort,” Weizel said.

“In light of recent events, we set three main tasks for ourselves. The first is to treat the towns that were damaged, not just from a physical point of view but also mentally and morally,” he said.

“The second task is to advance plans to safeguard the green environment that characterizes the region, and the third task is to support our agriculture and farmers, which represent one of the region’s core foundations,” Weizel said.

“In light of these tasks, we stand here today, embracing our towns and hoping that the trees that we have just planted will replace the blackness that has taken over the area and will once again fill Israel’s green lung, which is more important than ever these days,” he concluded.

Some 150 Fire and Rescue teams worked side by side with representatives from the Israel Air Force, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund, Home Front Command, Israel Nature and Parks Authority, and Palestinian Authority firefighting teams from Jericho and Ramallah to extinguish the fire. More than 1,500 firefighters took part in the operation, and over 6,000 acres were charred.

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