Israel — After the disastrous fire and the travel prohibition in the Carmel forest, thousands of Israelis headed north over the weekend to visit the site of the fire and the surrounding paths and trails.
For the first time since the Carmel fire disaster which claimed the life of 44 people, the Carmel range paths and trails were opened to tourists over the weekend. Thousands headed for the ‘murderous bend’ on the road to the Damon prison where the prison guard bus went up in flames, creating major traffic jams on the main and side roads.
The Carmel range was opened to tourists over the weekend after being closed for two weeks in order to allow for the clearing out of burnt trees and remarking of routes and roads. The Nature and Parks Authority estimates that 50,000 people visited the site during the weekend.
The authority stated that getting the tourists to visit the various Carmel range sites was part of major restoration efforts in the area, but that it would be a while before these efforts would be noticeable in the areas hit by the fire.
Forester Yaakov Arak of the Jewish National Fund told Yedioth Ahronoth, “Most visitors acted in accordance with instructions and didn’t go in to areas that were marked by signs as dangerous”.
The tourists were joined by family members of those who perished in the Carmel fire. This was the first time they could visit the site of where they lost their loved ones.
“Our response to the Carmel fire is that this year’s Tu B’Shvat celebrations will be biggest since the State was founded. We will plant 1.5 million trees,” JNF Chairman Efi Stenzler stated.
From this week and through to Tu B’shvat, JNF representatives will be giving out free green ribbons at major junctions for anyone interested in showing support for the Carmel restoration cause.