Melanie Nathan – 12-04-2010. From Marin County California, -The largest wildfire in Israel’s history is raging on the Carmel mountain range south of Haifa in northern Israel. A national disaster has been declared, as more than forty lives have been lost, and many more are in danger Israel’s Fire and Rescue Services and JNF-KKL foresters battle the blaze. Starting in the Muhraka area of the Carmel hills on Thursday morning, December 2, the fire quickly spread, threatening communities and forcing the evacuation of more than 17,000 residents, including the campus of Haifa University. At least 20% of the Carmel forest reportedly is affected as the fire continues to burn. The Israel Foreign Ministry is in contact with the United States government and countries from around the world regarding assistance in extinguishing the blaze. A number of nations have sent fire-fighting aircraft as well as equipment and supplies to help control the flames.
Statement from Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren:
The State of Israel is facing a fire of unprecedented magnitude. We mourn the tragic loss of life and deeply regret the devastation to communities, wildlife, and forests.
The People of Israel have been profoundly moved by the outpouring of support from a number of foreign countries, including many in our region. We are especially grateful to President Barack Obama for his expression of support. “That’s what friends do for each other,” he said last night, and he personally assured me that the administration would do its utmost to aid Israel swiftly in its hour of need.
We are ready to begin the task of rebuilding – restoring the damaged communities, replenishing the wildlife, and planting new forests.
The State of Israel has surmounted many challenges in its short history. Together with our friends worldwide, we will overcome this too.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:
“As soon as the fire broke out, I set two goals: First, saving lives, and second, extinguishing the fire, which effectively means aerial efforts with international cooperation. The work on the ground is the responsibility of Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, Israel Police Inspector-General Dudi Cohen and the Fire and Rescue Service, with the assistance of the IDF, MDA and all the bodies that are represented here. First of all, I would like to say that this goal has been achieved. After the tragedy that has befallen us, the loss of 41 people, we grieve along with the families.
“That we have no suffered additional losses is thanks to the police personnel, the firefighters, the soldiers, the pilots, the MDA personnel, the local council workers, the many volunteers and the citizens of Israel. The Israeli people know how to come together. The State of Israel knows how to come together and unite in moments of crisis and this is happening here very well.” (full statement)
Additional remarks from Prime Minister Netanyahu:
PM Netanyahu Talked with US President Obama
Statement from PM Netanyahu Regarding the Mt. Carmel Fire
US President Barack Obama Remarks (link)
“I want to begin by offering our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of all of those who’ve died as a result of the terrible forest fire in northern Israel.
“As rescuers and firefighters continue in their work, the United States is acting to help our Israeli friends respond to the disaster. A short while ago, our ambassador in Tel Aviv, Jim Cunningham, issued a disaster declaration, which has launched an effort across the U.S. government to identify the firefighting assistance we have available and provide it to Israel as quickly as possible. Of course, that’s what friends do for each other.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Remarks (link)
On behalf of the people of the United States, I offer my sincere condolences to the families and loved ones of those who have lost their lives in the fires in northern Israel. 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.
Our Ambassador to Israel, James Cunningham, has already issued a disaster declaration, prompting significant coordination within the United States government to identify and provide Israel with firefighting assistance. We are moving as quickly as we can to provide this assistance, and are heartened by similar efforts to contribute resources from Israel’s other friends around the world. My hope is that the fires are extinguished soon. The hearts of the people of the United States go out to the people of Israel, and we stand with them at this difficult time.
US Ambassador to Israel James B. Cunningham’s Message to the People of Israel (.pdf)
Information Centers in Israel
Emergency Information Center for public inquiries – Israel National Police: 1255144
Bnei Zion: 1255145
Families of prison wardens – Israel Prison Service: 08-9775717; 08-977-5701
Social Services: 118
Families of police victims: 02-542-8910
Israeli Government Website: www.gov.il
Haifa Municipality: 04-8706127
Israel National Police – updates on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/israelpolice?v=wall&filter=2
Haifa University – updates on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=52121266435&v=wall
Assistance to the elderly: 1700-700-113
Kibbutz Movement HQ- 050-767791
Rescue teams and equipment are being brought in from all over the world. Shimon Romach, Israel’s Fire Commissioner, is calling on the international community for support during this disaster. To donate to the firefighting and recovery efforts, please visit Jewish National Fund, the U.S. fundraising arm of Friends of Israel Firefighters:
Posted by Melanie Nathan