DATELINE: Friday, 5.00 PM (10.00 AM EST)
The fire in the Carmel Forest is still raging. Israel’s fire fighters would have been unable to limit its spread without the fire fighting planes and helicopters that have come to assist from Cyprus, Greece, Jordan and Turkey. (Israel, negligently, has none of her own.) Bulgaria has sent over 90 fire fighters, and offers of assistance have come from many countries, including Egypt and the Palestinian Authority. Chemicals to extinguish the fires from the air are belatedly being flown in today from France and Italy. However, the flames are still raging and is not anticipated that they will be fully doused until sometime next week. More than 15,000 Israelis have been evacuated from their homes, including from parts of Tirat Carmel, Ein Hod and the Haifa suburb of Denia. Kibbutz Beit Oren is in ruins.
However, the greatest tragedy is that 41 prison guards and policemen were burned to death abroad a bus on its way to transfer prisoners from a facility threatened by the flames. A further three, including a fire fighter, have been serious burned and are fighting for their lives in Rambam hospital.
As darkness falls here, the helicopters and planes that have done so much to douse the flames today have been grounded until first light. That will leave much of the fire unattended overnight. However, at the same time, the strong easterly winds that we have experienced during the day and which have fanned the flames have also died down.
There is already a great deal of criticism of the fact that successive Israeli government had not built up a fire force and provided it with the necessary equipment to cope with an eventuality of this nature.
The latest news is that police have arrested two men from Daliat el Carmel, who they suspect may be part of a gang responsible for lighting the fires. However, at this point in time, this is no more than a suspicion.
Hanukah, a festival that is normally associated with the miracle of the flame that continued to burn for eight days, will henceforth also be remembered as the time when Israel faced the challenge of the greatest fire in her history.
Shabbat shalom v’Chag Urim sameyach,
Hod Hasharon, Israel
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The mood is not optimistic after more than 35 hours battling what is the worst fire in Israel’s history, reports Hezy Levi, a Haifa region fire fighter who is on the scene.
“We are working around the clock,” said Levi, “and are receiving help from Greece, Cyprus, Russia, Britain and Turkey, but we are short on supplies—firetrucks, hoses, extinguishing agents, airplanes, you name it.”
Levi reported that 2 firefighters have died in addition to the 41 prison guards, more than 25,000 people have been evacuated, residential homes have been lost and more than 7,000 acres of forests are on fire – about ½ of the Carmel Forest. Many people are being treated for burns and smoke inhalation.
“We have deployed all of Israel’s firefighters, from Eilat all the way up, but right now there is no end in sight.”
They need your help. Israel’s firefighters are desperately short on supplies. JNF is the U.S. fundraising arm of Friends of Israel Firefighters. To donate to the relief effort, and arm the firefighters with the protective gear and equipment they need, go to www.jnf.org/fifdonate.
LAST CHANCE TO JOIN THE CONFERENCE CALL!
With Representatives from JNF, Israeli Firefighters, JNF-KKL, and Chief of the U.S. Forest Service
Jewish National Fund will be holding an emergency conference call today, Friday, December 3 at 12:00 PM EST for all of its donors and supporters.
The call will feature:
RSVP to attend the call and your e-mail confirmation will contain the call-in information.