MDA – 9272 5633
JNF – 9272 5666
UIA – 9272 5533
URGENT SOLIDARITY MEETING – MONDAY 6 DECEMBER 2010
868 GLENHUNTLY ROAD, CAULFIELD SOUTH AT 8PM
BREAKING NEWS: The fires that began in the Carmel region in Israel’s North on Thursday afternoon have now been officially declared over, after raging for 82 hours.
The incident claimed 41 lives and has completely destroyed around 12,500 acres of “planted forest, natural woodland, open spaces and built of areas” (see more). Almost five millions trees have also been destroyed. For a complete timeline of events as they unfolded, please click here.
Israeli fire fighters worked tirelessly in order to contain the fires, but it could not have been achieved without the assistance of the global community. Of the 35 aircrafts that worked to put out the fire, 24 were provided by foreign countries (see more). These countries included Greece, France, Cyprus, Britain, Spain, Switzerland and Turkey. Teams also arrived from Jordan and Egypt, and the Palestinian Authority sent three fire trucks to assist as well. Sunday saw the arrival of the world’s largest fire fighting plane from the United States – the “Evergreen” Boeing 747 Super Tanker. Watching it in action was an absolutely tremendous feat to watch on Israeli television. You can view various clips on the IDF Youtube channel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was extremely grateful for the foreign support declaring, “we have nothing to be ashamed of. We live in a global world. We give help and receive help” (see more). It certainly was heart-warming to see so many countries so quickly come to Israel’s aid. While the foreign pilots and planes are still on call, they are expected to leave Israel sometime today, but only after a farewell ceremony where they will be awarded IAF medals.
Colonel Ronen Simhi from the Ramat David Airbase declared, “there was excellent cooperation. A partnership that crossed boundaries, languages and cultures. All were focused on one task: Saving lives and the Carmel landscape.” Brigadier-General Eden Atias stated at one of the ceremonies, “In the Air Force we say friends are measured in a time of need. The State of Israel found itself in trouble, in a disaster. You were there and proved to be true friends” (see more).
Today’s Australian carries a story entitled ‘Turkey’s help with Israeli fires calms hostilities’ which seems to allude to the fact that Turkey’s assistance with the disaster has helped to alleviate the tensions between Turkey and Israel following the flotilla incident in late May. However, in contrast to the headline, the story actually paints a different picture, with reference to the fact that the humanitarian gesture does not change Turkey’s demand that Israel apologies for the deaths aboard the Mavi Marmara and compensates the families of the victims.
Israeli reports of the issue go into this deeper. On Friday it was reported in Ynet that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyid Erdogan had declared, “This step must not be confused with other problems with have with Israel… Our demands are known by now. The ties between us will not improve until they officially apologise and compensate us” (see more).
On Sunday Erdogan continued, “One day we shall turn the page but first Israel needs to apologise and provide compensation” (see more). The Palestinian team sent to assist expressed similar sentiments about separating humanitarian aid from the conflict. Ibrahim Ayash, commander of the Palestinian rescue services team stated, “I see our aid as a humanitarian effort which has nothing to do with Israel-Palestinian relations. Our main concern is offering help and aid, which is why we will stay in the Carmel until the fires are out” (see more).
It is believed that Prime Minister Netanyahu phoned PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to thank him for the assistance, the first such conversation between the two since peace talks broke down in September (see more).
Now that the fires have been contained, the recovery will begin. With over 250 houses damaged and an estimated NIS 200 million in damage, the rebuilding starts and the citizens will be demanding answers of the country on the condition of the Fire and Rescue Service. While different areas are looking to point the blame, a full investigation will be needed (see more).
The community is invited to a solidarity meeting about the fires tonight at 868 Glenhuntly Road, Caulfield South at 8pm. More details will follow later today in a Special EventZ Bulletin.
- Mass evacuations being carried out from hospitals, prisons and Kibbutzim in the area, over 1500 people already evacuated from areas such as Kibbutz Beit Oren, the Druze village of Ussafiya, Ein Hod, Nir Etzion, Tirat HaCarmel Hospital and more as fires continue to spread.
- 40 members of the Prison Service, dispacted the evacuate 500 prisoners from the Damon Prison, were killed en route as their bus engulfed in flames leaving no survivors on board.
- Head of Haifa Police, Ahuva Tomer, has also been critically injured and is fighting for her life in hospital.
This is the largest peacetime mass casualty event involved security forces (see more).
A firefighter spokesman declared, “we lost all control of the fire… There aren’t enough firefighting resources in Israel in order to put out the fire.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that this is a “disaster on an international scale” and has called on aid from other countries. “We do not have what it takes to put out the fire, but help is on the way. As a result of calls I have made, there are currently ten aircrafts on their way to Israel from Greece, France and Cyprus,” he stated. “This is a difficult our, and we will need to learn lessons for the future, but at this moment, our only thoughts are to save lives and protect the forces that are dealing with this catastrophe” (see more).
Israel is also expecting to receive assistance from Egypt, Spain, Croatia, Azerbaijan and Russia. Despite recent diplomatic tension with Turkey, they will also be sending two firefighting airplanes and were apparently one of the first governments to offer assistance (see more).
Magen David Adom reports that over 70 MDA Ambulance teams are at the scene supported by MDA helicopters. Over 200 MDA staff and volunteers are working in great danger to evacuate those critically injured.
MDA Australia has set up an Emergency Appeal to assist in this critical situation. Please contact 9272 5633 for more information.
The JNF has also set up an Emergency APPEAL and is asking for emergency donations in order to provide vital firefighting equipment such as firetrucks and fireproof suits for rescue workers. Please contact 9272 5666.
Please also contact UIA on 9272 5533 for further information on how you can assist during this crucial time.
Please keep checking Israel’s English news sites, such as Haaretz, Ynet and Jerusalem Post for updated information
Devastating fires in Israel’s Carmel Mountain Areas have resulted in the worst fires in Israel’s history.