Major Wildfire in Israel

Major Wildfire in Israel

04 Dezember 2010



This 250m resolution satellite image by the MODIS instrument shows the location of the wildfires in the Mt. Karmel region, Israel,
in the morning hours of Saturday, 4 December 2010. Satellite image source: NASA Terra satellite, selected by GFMC.

 


These 250m resolution satellite images by the MODIS instrument show the smoke plume rising from Mt. Karmel, Israel
during the mid-day hours of Friday, 3 December 2010, extending to the Mediterranean Sea South of Cyprus.
Satellite image source: NASA Terra satellite, selected by GFMC.
An update satellite image will be provide early p.m. of 4 December 2010.

Mt. Carmel Wildfire Picture Gallery (2-3 December 2010) (PDF, 0.3 MB)

 

Latest Updates (morning of 4 December 2010):

Foreigners Help Battle Deadly Israeli Wildfire

Foreign firefighters are rushing to Israel’s aid in battling an unprecedented wildfire that’s killed 41 people and threatens to engulf the country’s third-largest city, Haifa.

The help includes expert firefighting teams and aircraft from Israel’s erstwhile Muslim ally — Turkey — and some of its Arab neighbors, Egypt and Jordan, with whom the Jewish state has peace treaties. Two Turkish helicopters landed in Israel this morning, and more are en route.


International firefighters aid in extinguishing the wildfire over Ein Hod in northern Israel.

The fire — the biggest and deadliest in Israel’s 62-year history — began early Thursday in the parched Carmel Mountains and has burned more than 10,000 acres in 24 hours. Most of the 41 people killed were prison guards whose bus was incinerated on their way to rescue inmates trapped by the blaze. Paramedics and police also were injured or missing. More than 15,000 residents have been evacuated, the Israeli daily Haaretz newspaper reported.

“I really appreciate Turkey’s help; we will find a way to express our appreciation,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told The Jerusalem Post while visiting fire survivors at a hospital in Haifa. He called Greece’s prime minister a “real friend” and also thanked the leaders of Cyprus, Britain, Bulgaria and Russia for their help.

Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, told Israel Radio that the country is dealing with a disaster “like we have never known before.” He also charged that there’s a constant shortage of firefighting aircraft in Israel and that “nothing ever happens here until disaster strikes.”

Special firefighting aircraft are due to land from Greece, France, Britain, Spain, Russia, Turkey, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Croatia and Azerbaijan, Lieberman said. The New York City fire department has also pledged to send help.

President Barack Obama said U.S. firefighters are on standby to help. “That’s what friends do for each other,” Obama said. He told about 500 guests at a Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony Thursday at the White House that America is “offering our deepest condolences to the families [and] loved ones” of the victims of the fire, according to Agence France-Presse.

Turkey’s firefighting assistance is especially significant given recently rocky relations between the two countries, after nine Turkish activists were killed in an Israeli commando raid on a flotilla trying to deliver aid to Palestinians in Gaza in May.

The University of Haifa and several luxury hotels in the northern coastal city have been evacuated ahead of the fire’s possible path. An upscale suburb on the city’s outskirts has also been emptied, and authorities briefly closed Highway 4, a major route connecting Haifa with the rest of the country, as plumes of black smoke obscured cars’ visibility.

“Evacuations will be conducted as needed, with sufficient advance warning,” Netanyahu told Haaretz. “We do not want any more injuries.”

Israel takes pride in its own rescue services and has sent quick reaction teams to disasters around the world, such as Haiti’s earthquake in January. But with a shortage of firefighting resources at home, Lieberman said the Carmel fire is nowhere near under control. It’s only with foreign help that Israeli might be able to contain the blaze by Saturday night, he said.

“The size of the fire is huge, the wind is very strong, and there is a problem accessing the mountains and valleys,” Yoram Levi, a spokesman for Israel’s fire and rescue service, told The Associated Press. “We don’t have big aircraft that can carry a large amount of water. It is not enough for a large-scale fire.”

Source: www.aolnews.com

 

Palestinians sends trucks to help douse Israeli bushfire (Extra)

The Palestinian Authority said Friday it sent fire trucks to help fight the massive bushfire raging in northern Israel.

In a brief statement on the official Palestinian news agency, Wafa, the PA also said ‘the Palestinian president had expressed sympathy with the victims of the fire.’

Israeli reports said Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad had called the Israeli President Shimon Peres to express his condolences to the families of the victims.

Source: www.monstersandcritics.com

 

Police: Arrested arson suspects not linked to Israeli fire (Extra)

Two men arrested Friday afternoon on suspicion of arson in northern Israel were not linked to the country’s massive bushfires, according to National Police Commissioner David Cohen.

The two, from the Druze town of Daliyah al-Carmel, were arrested after they were reportedly spotted throwing a Molotov cocktail into a forest close to the bushfire, raging since Thursday.

Cohen told journalists that, while there had been a number of suspected arson attacks in northern Israel, the cause of the main bushfire, which broke out on the Carmel hill which borders the port city of Haifa, was still unknown.

He said, however, that the fire had one ignition point, and he hoped that by Saturday it would be possible for investigators to determine whether the cause was negligence or premeditated arson.

Cohen said that, since the fire broke out shortly before noon Thursday, some 17,000 people have been evacuated from 14 locations threatened by the blaze.

Source: www.monstersandcritics.com

 

Australia offers Israel fire assistance

Australia offered to assist Israel in the wake of the devastating fires that have claimed at least 40 lives.

“Australia stands ready to offer assistance to Israel,” Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, who is due to visit Israel later this month, said in a statement Friday. “Australians know directly the devastating impact inflicted by bushfires. I will travel to Israel later this month for an official visit and will convey my sincere condolences in person to Israeli leaders and people.”

The Israeli Embassy in Canberra thanked the Australian government.

“We wish to thank and acknowledge the government and people of Australia, who have graciously offered their assistance and expertise, even from the far side of the world,” Ambassador Yuval Rotem said in a statement. “These actions highlight the deep friendship between our two nations, and shows Australia’s willingness to stand with us during in this trying moment.”

Source: www.jta.org

 

Forest fire diplomacy may help improve Turkish-Israeli ties

Every tragedy brings its own set of challenges as well as opportunities to exploit, so that further damage might be contained if one learns one’s lessons and makes the necessary adjustments. The extension of tragedy into diplomacy often brings a windfall of goodwill under which a more constructive dialogue can be achieved.

This is what had happened in 1999 when a major earthquake devastated the western part of Turkey, and Greece — then the arch-enemy of Turkey — offered its help to grieving Turkey, setting into motion what was called “earthquake diplomacy,” which improved ties between the neighbors dramatically. A minor quake in Greece later that year further brought the two countries closer when Turkey reciprocated the help from Athens.

Sometimes the event that provides an opening for talks does not even need to be a tragedy, as we saw in the case of the football diplomacy between Turkey and Armenia, when the presidents of the two countries visited each other to watch football matches, paving the way for the rapprochement between the two countries.

On Thursday, Turkey offered to send Israel two firefighting aircraft to help control a huge brushfire that has been raging through northern Israel after Israel made an international plea to help contain the fire. Though the bilateral relations between the two countries took a sharp dive after the flotilla incident in May that resulted in the deaths of eight Turks and one Turkish-American by Israeli commandos and worsened after Israel’s refusal to apologize and compensate victims’ families, Turkish assistance in fighting the fire may prove to be a valuable asset in mending ties.

There was simply no room to maneuver after the two countries locked themselves in a corner: Israel refusing to give in to the demands of Turkey and Turkey insisting on Israel paying the price for the attacks on Turkish citizens in open waters. The forest tragedy that has claimed the lives of at least 40 Israeli citizens may nevertheless provide an opening for Turkey improve sour relations with Israel.

The Israeli side should capitalize on this and build enough momentum of goodwill to finally move the situation into “damage control” mode. After all, the ensuing disagreement between the two key countries in the Middle East is hampering efforts to reconcile differences in the greater region. Israel needs Turkey’s help to smooth out relations with Syria and solve the Golan Heights problem in order to ensure security on the northern front. The indirect proximity talks with Syria, brokered by Turkey until the Cast Lead operation, may need to be revitalized again.

Everything remains at a standstill when communication between Turkey and Israel is cut off and their high-ranking officials simply do not converse with each other. It will further erode the trust and confidence between the two countries when third parties or other developments insert themselves into the equation. The prime example is the latest Wikileaks releases, which many politicians in Turkey, including Cabinet ministers, blame Tel Aviv for. If we had better relations with Israel, these politicians and ministers would avoid making such comments to the media.

A case in point was President Abdullah Gül’s exchange in Astana with his Azerbaijani counterpart, Ilham Aliyev, who was reported to have voiced remarks critical of the current Turkish government in US diplomatic cables released recently by WikiLeaks, a whistleblower website. Aliyev denied the report during their meeting and expressed his dismay over the cables presenting him as being critical of Erdoğan. The Turkish president said he did not believe in remarks allegedly voiced by Aliyev, either. That was the end of the story.

Unfortunately there has been no high level exchange between Turkish and Israeli officials for some time now. In fact Turkey deliberately made an effort to avoid contacts with Israeli officials after the latter refused to apologize over the flotilla incident. Be that as it may, the lack of exchange is hurting both countries, providing an opportunity for others to exploit the vacuum. I just hope that the goodwill generated by the forest fire assistance may extend to the core of diplomacy as well, and we can leave the flotilla incident behind us.

Source: www.todayszaman.com

 

Death toll rises to 41 as brush fire rages on in northern Israel

The death toll from Israel’s worst ever brush fire rose to 41 on Friday, authorities said, as firefighters from Britain, Greece, and Cyprus joined in to fight the flames.

The fire broke out on Thursday afternoon across the Carmel mountains and most of the casualties were from a bus evacuating prison guards near Haifa in northern Israel. In addition, dozens more were injured including police officers and firefighters.

The bus was en route to Damon prison in order to assist in the evacuation of about 600 prisoners when the vehicle flipped over and became engulfed in flames from the forest fire.

Most of the deceased burned to death and all of them were prison wardens. “The bus had no chance. They tried to escape but were burned alive. It was a horrific scene,” said a spokesman for the local fire department. “The fire was very far from the road on which the bus was traveling when it first set off towards the prison, but spread far faster than expected.”

The flames has already engulfed thousands of acres of the Carmel forest between the Haifa University and Ussafiya. The university had to be evacuated to avoid further fatalities. Police forces described the situation as a major disaster and added that they do not believe the fire will be controlled in the coming days.

The fire is continuing to spread and is endangering many areas and police forces urged citizens to stay clear of the area, while more than 15,000 people have already been evacuated. The affected region has heavy brush that burns easily and is spreading due to the strong winds.

On Friday morning, five planes from Greece carrying staff and equipment, a plane and helicopter from Cyprus, and a Bulgarian plane carrying approximately 100 fire fighters landed at the Ramat David Air Force Base. The Bulgarian firefighters later deployed at an IDF Home Front Command base, from which they will leave for their designated missions led by Israeli firefighters.

A substantial number of IDF forces is operating in the area, including infantry soldiers, navy sailors, search and rescue teams, cranes, vehicles, bulldozers, IDF fire trucks, and other equipment. Israeli Air Force aircraft assist in illuminating the area in order to assist the teams extinguishing the blaze, paramedics and doctors are treating those who were injured and teams of the IDF Personnel Directorate and Medical Corps are helping identify those who died in the fire.

“We are in a very harsh event,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Security Cabinet Meeting regarding the fire. “We have over 40 dead. People are missing; people are injured. Many of these people perished in admirable courage and sacrificed themselves in order to save others,” he said.

Netanyahu said the international community was quick to respond to offer assistance. “We have also received aid and very generous offers of assistance from Egypt, Azerbaijan, Spain, Croatia, France and Jordan,” he said. “I think that this symbolizes the unprecedented response to my appeal, to our appeal, for international assistance. This is important to the State of Israel in every respect, especially that of putting out the fires.”

Earlier on Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered the U.S. government’s condolences to the families of those who died in the fire. “The people of the United States know all too well the devastation caused by wildfires, and we are fully committed to assisting Israel during this tragedy,” Clinton said.

Source: www.islandcrisis.net

 

Israel thanks to Bulgarai for the aid (ROUNDUP)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netayahu on Friday morning thanked his international counterparts for help in attempts to controlling a huge brush-fire in the Carmel which had already claimed 41 lives.
Netanyahu spoke at a special Cabinet meeting called in the wake of flailing efforts to extinguish the flames. Netanyahu also thanked other world leaders, including Bulgaria’s prime minister and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who sent “a very large Russian plane, perhaps the largest of its kind in the world”.
Bulgarian firefighters participated in the extinguishing of wildfires in Israel, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Dimitar Tsachev said for FOCUS News Agency.
In his words just at their arrival at the airport in Israel everyone were grateful and thanked a lot to the Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and Bulgaria, because the Bulgarian firefighters are the only who arrived as a team. “Other states had sent material aids, aircrafts, and cistern trucks. The only state that sent firefighters team is Bulgaria and people there [in Israel] expressed their gratitude to out Prime Minister on behalf of their Prime Minister for the fast reaction and decision”, Dimitar Tsanchev said.

Source: www.focus-fen.net

 

Despite aid, Israel unable to check deadly wildfire

The worst fire in Israel’s history showed little sign of abating Friday, and after two days the unchecked blaze had killed 42 people, consumed more than 7,000 acres and nipped at neighborhoods in the northern city of Haifa, Israel’s third largest.

The fire had also destroyed a large chunk of the Carmel Forest, one of Israel’s natural crown jewels and a popular tourist and vacation destination that is known as Little Switzerland because of its beauty.

By Friday, the flames had engulfed several kibbutzim and were racing down hills toward Israel’s heavily traveled coastal highway. At least 15,000 residents were evacuated.

In a country as small as Israel, where territory is at the heart of political conflict, every inch of land is especially precious. Nevertheless, Israel has neglected to invest in the equipment and personnel needed to effectively combat wildfires that have become pervasive in recent years amid unseasonably high temperatures and periods of drought. In a country of 7 million, there are only 1,500 firefighters.

This winter has been one of the hottest and driest on record. Jerusalem rabbis this week held a special prayer for rain at Judaism’s holiest site, the Western Wall.

Fires this year ravaged parts of the disputed Golan Heights and charred nature preserves on Jerusalem’s outskirts. Israel used its entire 200-ton stock of fire-retarding chemicals to battle those outbreaks, so it had none on hand when the latest fire erupted.

The country boasts the region’s most powerful military and is often among the first to send rescue teams to disasters abroad, but it could not handle this fire alone.

“Our firefighting measures cannot provide an answer to forest fires of this magnitude, especially in the face of such winds. We do not have such equipment,” Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Friday.

The fire has sparked a rally of international support at a time when Israel has felt isolated diplomatically. Turkey, which has had a strained relationship with Israel since Israeli troops seized a Gaza-bound Turkish aid ship in May, sent two planes. Britain, Greece, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Russia and Jordan also sent help. Turkey and Greece set aside their political differences and flew sorties together to douse the flames.

The evacuations in the north recalled the mass flight of Israelis south to escape Katyusha rocket fire from the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah during a 2006 war. Acknowledgments by authorities Thursday night that they had no control of the fire raised questions about Israel’s readiness to cope with another such barrage, analysts said.

After the 2006 war, a national inquiry found that Israel’s fire services were underfunded and unprepared and recommended an investment in firefighting aircraft.

But even as Israel prepares to acquire hundreds of millions of dollars worth of advanced fighter jets, no budget has been allocated for the much cheaper aerial firefighters.

Source: www.washingtonpost.com

 

World Jewry raises emergency funds for victims of Carmel forest fire

The Jewish Federations of North America and their overseas partners American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and the Jewish Agency announced Friday they were opening a special emergency fund to assist the international efforts to extinguish the Carmel forest fire that had been raging for over 36 hours.

The World Jewish Congress mobilized its teams on the ground in Israel, mainly assisting the displaced residents, and have provided so far up to 1,000 shelter beds.

Checks can be sent to the Israel Forest Fire Disaster Relief Fund, and made payable to The Jewish Federations of North America, care of: Wall Street Station, PO Box 148, New York, NY 10268. Funds can also be donated online.

Israel’s largest-ever bushfire raged uncontrollably Friday night, taunting efforts by exhausted fire teams to battle the blaze as it threatened areas previously untouched by the flames.

By late evening, the fire, which broke out on the Carmel hill south-east of the northern city of Haifa, had claimed 42 lives, destroyed more than 8,500 acres of parched, drought-stricken land and devoured more than 4 million trees, and forced 17,000 people from 14 locations to flee their homes.

Meanwhile, the heads of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations wrote to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres to express their solidarity with the people of Israel and said they were “confident that the American Jewish community will not only stand with Israel at this time but will be ready to assist in any way necessary.”

“We express our condolences to the families of those lost, our support for those who have lost homes and property, and, of course, our support and prayers for those on the front lines fighting this conflagration,” Chairman Alan Solow and Executive Vice Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein said in the letter.

Source: www.haaretz.com

 

Israeli bushfire continues to burn out of control

Israel’s largest-ever bushfire raged uncontrollably Friday night, taunting efforts by exhausted fire teams to battle the blaze as it threatened areas previously untouched by the flames.

By late evening, around 36 hours after it began, the fire, which broke out on the Carmel hill southeast of the northern city of Haifa, had claimed 42 lives, destroyed more than 8,500 acres of parched, drought-stricken land and devoured more than four million trees, and forced 17,000 people from 14 locations to flee their homes.

Aided by unseasonably warm weather and strong winds, which showed no signs of abetting overnight, the flames were approaching Haifa University, which sits atop the Carmel, on the southeastern outskirts of the city.

The adjacent suburb of Daniya, some of whose residents had been evacuated shortly after midnight Friday, was under renewed threat, with the blaze only one kilometre away, though officials said there was no immediate danger to homes there.

New, smaller fires broke out during the day, while the main blaze was reigniting in some locations where it had been doused earlier, but with the fall of darkness around 5 p.m. (1500 GMT), firefighting aircraft, some of which had been dispatched from European countries, were forced to halt operations.

The planes were set to resume flying at first light Saturday, reinforced by aircraft capable of carrying larger loads of water, which had arrived during the day in Israel. Hopes were especially being pinned on a Russian airplane that landed late Friday in Israel with a capacity of 42,000 litres.

Fire crews on the ground were expected to work throughout the night but with little hope of being able to contain the fire, much less extinguish it.

National Police Commissioner David Cohen told journalists Friday evening that it was impossible to say the fire was under control, but he hoped by Saturday this would change.

He said the fire had one ignition point, and it was possible that by Saturday special investigators could determine whether it was caused by deliberate arson or negligence.

Haifa Fire Service spokesman Chezi Levy told reporters that the ignition point had been burning garbage in a yard of a house in the village of Usafiyah.

Police Friday afternoon arrested two men who reportedly threw a Molotov cocktail in the forest close to where the fire was raging. Cohen told journalists later that the two were not linked to the blaze, nor to the fires that had broken out north of Haifa during the day and which were thought to have been the result of arson attacks.

‘We are in the midst of a disaster of international proportions,’ Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told an emergency cabinet session Friday morning in Tel Aviv, before taking off to tour the disaster area by helicopter.

The blaze broke out before noon Thursday. Huge flames sent sparks into the sky, prompting one witness to remark that the Carmel hill looked like ‘a volcano’.

Thirty-six of the 42 fatalities were prison service cadets, sent to help evacuate inmates from a prison in the path of the flames Thursday. Their bus was engulfed by the fire, which left nothing more than the charred frame of the vehicle.

A nature photographer, Roni Sofer, who headed the convoy in his jeep, described to the daily Yediot Ahronot how ‘at one of the bends in the road, there was again a wall of fire facing me, about 30 meters high, an unfathomable sight’.

Survivors said most of the cadets managed to get off the bus but did not stand a chance of outracing the fire by foot.

Some 900 inmates from two prisons in the area were safely evacuated.

Four Greek planes and a Hercules cargo plane from Bulgaria with some 150 firefighters on board joined the effort. Countries such as Turkey and Cyprus sent around 20 planes and helicopters and other equipment arrived Friday.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Israel Radio that Israel had turned to Germany for help, which in turn had asked Turkey for assistance, prompting Ankara to send two planes – despite its marred relations with Israel.

US President Barack Obama has offered condolences to the families of the victims. Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad called Israeli President Shimon Peres to express condolences.

Source: sify.com

 

Wildfire: Homes in Ein Hod, Nir Etzion burn

Aerial firefighting crews resumed their efforts to contain the huge wildfire in northern Israel’s Carmel mountain range early Saturday morning.

During the night the deadliest fire in Israel’s history reached Ein Hod, Nir Etzion and Yemin Orad. Severe damage to property was reported in Ein Hod.

The communities were evacuated Thursday, but some residents returned to their houses on Friday.

The flames also burned parts of the Hai-Bar nature reserve, from which the wild animals were released.

Special firefighting aircraft from Turkey, Greece, Cyprus and Britain dumped sea water and flame retardant on the fire Saturday morning. A special plane from Russia, which is capable of holding up to 42,000 liters of water, also went into action on Saturday.

A total of 30 aircraft are set to be utilized in the efforts to contain the blaze throughout the day.

On Friday Firefighting and Rescue Services Spokesman Yoram Levy told Ynet “tomorrow we’ll deliver a serious blow” to the blaze.

Meanwhile, the body of 16-year-old Elad Riven of Haifa, a volunteer firefighter who was killed while helping to battle the flames, has been identified. The blaze has claimed the lives of at least 41 people. Thirty-nine bodies have been identified so far. Five of those who were injured in the blaze, including Haifa Police Chief Ahuva Tomer, remain hospitalized. Tomer’s condition continues to be serious, though it has improved slightly.

As of Saturday morning, the fire’s strongest point is near Ein Hod and Nir Etzion. The blaze is also raging near Ussifiya, and a home in the Druze community was evacuated. On Friday the fire moved closer to the University of Haifa and to the Denia neighborhood in the city, but the flames are not expected to reach residential areas.

“The homes and galleries are going to be decimated,” an Ein Hod resident told Ynet overnight, while local artist Zvi Gerti said, “I fear that we are the next Beit Oren. We were only able to take a few of my documents and paintings, but dozens more were left behind.”

Highway 4 was blocked after the fire spread to the western Carmel hills.

Early Saturday, four Border Guard police officers were lightly hurt by smoke inhalation after being trapped near the northern community of Ein Hod.

The four were rescued and taken to Rambam hospital in Haifa, Magen David Adom spokesman Zaki Heller said.

Israeli firefighters received massive assistance from many states worldwide, including Greece, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Jordan, Britain, Turkey, France, the United States, Egypt, Italy, Croatia, Romania, Azerbaijan, Switzerland, and Spain. On Friday, the US Administration announced that it was dispatching three firefighting experts to Israel as well as large quantities of fire retardant chemicals.

Source: www.ynetnews.com

 

Azerbaijan sends 2 helicopters to help Israel to fight forest fire

On December 4, Azerbaijani Ministry for Emergency Situations (MES) sent two helicopters, Ka-32A and Mi-17-1b to join the international teams to extinguish a huge forest fire.

According to Chief of the Aviation group of MES, Colonel Ashraf Gasimov, the Israeli government appealed to the Azerbaijani government to take part in fire extinguishing.

The Azerbaijani Ministry sent 2 helicopters and detachment of 16 people to Israel. The helicopters will fly out to Israel via Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey-Cyprus route. The Azerbaijani firemen will take part in fire extinguishing operations in Haifa city where the blaze is more widespread, News.az reports.

Source: news.am

 

Russia, Egypt Among Many Sending Aid To Israel

Israel received more firefighting aircraft from abroad Saturday morning in an attempt to control the massive bushfire in the north of the country which has killed at least 41 people.

Two huge Russian planes capable of dumping at least 42 tonnes of water arrived in Israel and were already in the air – together with six other international aircraft from France, Turkey, Greece and Cyprus, Israeli fire services said.

So far, according to the police, the number of fatalities is 41, while Israeli Radio reported 43 deaths including two police officers and a 16-year-old volunteer.

Officials late Friday said that the fire had destroyed more than 3,400 hectares of land, devoured over 4 million trees, and forced 17,000 people to flee their homes.

“The international support that we are receiving, that is impressive, could help us to extinguish the fire Saturday night”, Yoram Levy, spokesman of the Israeli fire services said to dpa.

Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld added that changes in the wind, temperatures and other factors could extend the works to bring the fire under control between 24 and 48 hours.

International planes have been working together with at least 10 Israeli aircraft since 6 AM (0400GMT).

The blaze is concentrated between the village of Beit Oren and a major road linking Haifa with Tel Aviv to the south, as well as between the village of Usafiya and the village of Nir Etzion.

The dead teenager, identified as Elad Rebin, was trying to rescue prison service cadets whose bus had been trapped in the inferno Thursday night. Some 36 cadets on the bus were burned to death. The other dead were police officers, firemen, and a civilian.

Four Border Guard police officers were lightly hurt by smoke inhalation Satruday morning after being trapped near the northern community of Ein Hod. Four of them remain in hospital.

Some two days after the fire first began on the drought-stricken, heavily-forested Carmel hill, south-east of the city of Haifa, it is still defying efforts to bring it under control.

During the night the flames spread to the villages of Nir Ezion and Ein Hod, burning houses, and forcing police and firefighters to rescue residents who had not already fled.

However, firefighters managed to prevent the flames from reaching the Haifa suburb of Deniya, which lies on the south-eastern outskirts of the city, even though at one stage it was only one kilometre from the quarter’s outlying streets.

The inferno also reached a hotel, and a wildlife reserve. Nir Etzion.

Spain, Egypt, Jordan, Croatia, Romania, Italy, Azerbaijan, Britain and the US are expected to send also aircraft, fire-retardant chemicals and other equipments. The Palestinian Authority said it had sent fire trucks.

Two other fires near the town of Ma’alot, about 40 kilometres north-east of the Carmel fire, and near the northern village of Basmat Tab’un erupted Saturday. The first was brought under control and in both cases police suspect arson.

Source: www.newstime.co.za

 

Marred relations no barrier for Turkey to help Israel fight bushfire

In a strong show of humanitarian gesture, Turkey, despite its marred relations with Israel, rushed to help the Jewish state fight the bushfire being termed as its largest-ever.

The bushfire that has killed 42 people so far raged uncontrollably Friday night, taunting efforts by exhausted fire teams to battle the blaze as it threatened areas previously untouched by the flames.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while describing the blaze as “a catastrophe, the likes of which we have not yet known”, had appealed to Russia, Cyprus, Greece and Italy for help in putting out the fire, which began on the slopes of the Carmel hill, southeast of Israel’s port city of Haifa, and rapidly spread.

Following the appeal, foreign firefighting aircraft began landing at the Ramat Aviv military airport in northern Israel, with two planes from Greece and Bulgaria already on the ground. Around 20 more from other countries including Turkey, Cyprus and Spain were expected to join throughout the day.

Four Greek planes and a Hercules cargo plane from Bulgaria with some 150 firefighters on board joined the effort. Countries such as Turkey and Cyprus sent around 20 planes and helicopters and other equipment arrived Friday.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Israel Radio that Israel had turned to Germany for help, which in turn had asked Turkey for assistance, prompting Ankara to send two planes – despite its marred relations with Israel.

Turkey-Israeli relations soared after Israeli military attacked earlier this year an aid flotilla that was sent to Gaza to help the people suffering due to the blockade.

Source: www.ummid.com

 

Death toll in Israel bushfire rises to 43 (1st Lead)

The death toll from the massive bushfire in northern Israel rose to 43 Saturday morning, after the charred remains of a 16-year-old youth were identified.

Israel Radio named the latest fatality as Elad Rebin, a volunteer fireman who perished when trying to rescue prison service cadets whose bus had been trapped in the inferno. Some 36 cadets on the bus were burned to death. The other dead were police officers, firemen, and a civilian.

On Saturday morning, some 44 hours after the fire first began on the drought-stricken, heavily-forested Carmel hill, south-east of the city of Haifa, it was still defying efforts to bring it under control.

During the night the flames spread to the villages of Nir Ezion and Ein Hod, burning houses, and forcing police and firefighters to rescue residents who had not already fled.

However, firefighters managed to prevent the flames from reaching the Haifa suburb of Deniya, which lies on the south-eastern outskirts of the city, even though at one stage it was only one kilometre from the quarter’s outlying streets.

The inferno also reached a hotel, and a wildlife reserve.

Early-morning reports said the blaze was concentrated between the village of Beit Oren and a major road linking Haifa with Tel Aviv to the south, and between the village of Usafiya and the village of Nir Etzion.

With first light, firefighting aircraft were taking to the skies in an effort to try and bring the fire under control. Hopes were being pinned on two huge aircraft sent from Russia, which can hold tens of thousands of litres of water.

Aircraft from Greece, Cyprus and Bulgaria were also involved in the firefighting efforts, and more planes from Spain and France were expected to arrive. Other countries sending aid included Turkey Egypt, Jordan, Croatia, Romania, Italy, Azerbaijan, Britain and the US. The Palestinian Authority said it had sent fire trucks.

Officials said Friday night that since it broke out, the fire had destroyed more than 3,400 hectares of land, devoured over 4 million trees, and forced 17,000 people to flee their homes.

But another fire, which began near the town of Ma’alot, about 40 kilometres north-east of the Carmel fire, was brought under control. City officials said they suspected arson.

Source: www.monstersandcritics.com

 

Netanyahu meets with head of Russian fire delegation

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with Russian Deputy Civil Defense, Emergency and Disaster Relief Minister Pavel Plat on Saturday, who is responsible for the Russian delegation that has arrived in Israel.

The prime minister thanked him for Russia’s effort in helping to extinguish the massive Carmel brushfire and said that the State of Israel very much appreciates the significant assistance that Russia is currently extending to it.

Source: www.jpost.com

 

AJC Donates $100,000 to Israel Fire Relief

AJC is making an initial $100,000 donation to Israeli relief organizations assisting communities devastated by the unprecedented forest fire raging in the country’s north near Haifa. AJC’s Jerusalem Office is completing an assessment and recipients will be announced soon.

“We are deeply moved by the dedication and courage of the firefighters, police, soldiers and other rescue workers engaged in fighting the blaze and its devastating effect,” AJC President Robert Elman and Executive Director David Harris wrote in a letter delivered to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The massive fire has claimed 41 lives, displaced more than 17,000, damaged communities and destroyed thousands of acres of forest. “We extend our condolences to the families of the dead, pray for the wounded, and mourn the devastating destruction wrought on the Carmel Mountain area,” said Harris.

In addition, AJC has reopened its Israel Emergency Assistance Fund to enable individuals to contribute to the rescue and recovery efforts AJC is supporting. Donations can be made at www.ajc.org. The Fund, to support Israeli humanitarian and relief efforts, was activated in 2006 during the war between Israel and Hezbollah, and again during Israel’s operation against Hamas in Gaza at the end of 2008.

AJC has a longstanding tradition of responding to humanitarian crises around the world. Several, including the Haiti earthquake, involved AJC supporting Israeli first-responders.

“We are gratified that so many nations have mobilized to support Israel with the same urgency with which Israel responds to humanitarian emergencies around the world,” said Harris. “It is heartening to see that in such moments of crisis, even the most acute political differences can be overcome.”

Countries sending aircraft and other firefighting equipment include Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Russia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and United States. In addition, Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority have offered assistance.

“This outpouring of international goodwill and solidarity for Israel is very moving,” said Harris.

Indeed, as Prime Minister Netanyahu observed in his speech Saturday night, “The fact that during Chanukah, Turkish speaking pilots, and pilots speaking Greek are flying together with Israeli pilots will certainly have positive repercussions.”

Source: www.prnewswire.com

 

Remains of teen firefighter killed in blaze identified

The remains of the 16-year-old volunteer firefighter who was killed in the Carmel forest blaze were identified on Saturday morning.

Elad Riven, from Haifa, was killed on Thursday while helping firefighting forces battle the wildfire which began that same day.

Riven’s classmates at the Haifa high school where he studied described him as a student who was loved by all. He volunteered for a scout group made of students who worked to aid the country’s firefighting service.

Riven was in the northern city of Afula when his mother received a phone call to alert Riven of the wildfire. He left Afula and arrived on the scene to assist the firefighters who were working to evacuate residents of the area.

“Elad’s bravery and values led him to go out and save lives, at the risk of his own life,” a teacher from Riven’s high school said.

Most of the 42 victims whose lives have been claimed in the devastating wildfire perished on Thursday when a bus brought in to evacuate people got caught in the flames. The bus was carrying members of a Prison Service guards’ course who were heading to the Damon jail in order to help evacuate inmates.

On Friday, the remains of a police commander who was killed while on his way to rescue residents were identified. Lior Boker, age 57, was head of police operations for Israel’s northern region.

Police had gathered a search party for Boker, who was thought to be missing, on Thursday. He apparently was caught in the fire while trying to identify the location of the bus of prison service guard students.

Source: www.haaretz.com

 

See also earlier updates of the Israel wildfire emergency:


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