Israel — Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Saturday continued his efforts to secure additional fire-fighting equipment from foreign nations, according to the PMO.
On Saturday, the prime minister spoke with Swiss President Doris Leuthard and requested fire-fighting planes from Switzerland.
Russia sent a detachment of high-ranking firefighter officials comprised of 24 personnel, including the deputy head of the Russian emergency situation branch, and two fire-fighting airplanes.
On Friday, Netanyahu spoke with the heads of state of Russia, Germany, Turkey, Britain, Norway, Finland, Belgium, the Ukraine and the United States.
He thanked his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for sending airplanes to help battle the Carmel brush-fire which had already claimed more than 40 lives.
“I really appreciate Turkey’s help, we will find a way to express our appreciation.” The prime minister’s comments came during a visit to the Carmel fire injured at Rambam hospital in Haifa.
He later added that he believed Turkey’s granting of aid to Israel “will serve as an opening to improve relations between Israel and Turkey.”
Netanyahu also spoke with Russian Prime Minister Vladmir Putin, and thanked him and his country for their assistance in the effort to control the deadly forest fire.
The prime minister also praised Israeli rescue workers, the IDF, the Israel Prisons Service, and hospitals around the country.
Alsoon Friday, Netyanyahu thanked his other international counterparts for planes, firefighters, supplies and fire retardant chemicals sent to assist efforts to control the huge forest fire.
In a press conference held after an emergency cabinet meeting in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu mentioned Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, who he called a real friend, as well as Cypriot President Dimitris Christofias, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov
The international aid effort is being coordinated by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and the Foreign Ministry, Netanyahu said, adding that the option of bringing in more supplies from Canada and the US was being considered. He said that the cabinet had a national plan which would be implemented in the coming days.
Before the cabinet meeting, Lieberman told Israel Radio that the country was dealing with a disaster like we have never known before.” He charged that though a shortage of fire-fighting planes was common knowledge, “nothing here ever happens until disaster strikes.”
The foreign minister also referred to international aid which was being flown in to help Israeli efforts controlling the fire. Four Greek aircraft, four from France, three from Britain, two from Spain, two from Russia, two from Turkey, two from Cyprus, two from Bulgaria, one from Croatia and one from Azerbaijan were expected to arrive by noon, Lieberman said.
He said that the Germans had “made the initiative” to request the fire-fighting planes from Turkey, and that El Al was organizing for the transfer of a special fire-fighting liquid from France.