For almost a week, Israel watched in horror as hundreds of wildfires raged throughout the country. Some of the fires were started by accident – a confluence of negligence, strong winds and parched conditions (it has hardly rained in Israel since April). However, at least some were deliberately started, intended to cause widespread damage and instigate panic.
The destruction has indeed been immense. Over 30,000 dunams of forest were burned, 133 people were injured and, in Haifa alone, almost 600 homes were completely destroyed.
- 2,500 firefighters worked around the clock to gain control of the fires. Five teams of Palestinian fire fighters joined their Israeli counterparts.
- Additional air support was provided by Turkey, Greece, Russia, Croatia and the United States.
- Police have arrested over 20 people suspected of participating in arson attacks.
- The emergency services worked around the clock to ensure the safety of residents. Over 80,000 people from Haifa, Zichron Ya’akov and the greater Jerusalem area were evacuated.
- Police and MDA personnel moved from house to house in evacuated areas to ensure that no-one was left in harm's way.
- Thousands of Israelis opened their homes to provide evacuees with a place to stay, and hundreds volunteered to act as fire spotters in order to enable a rapid response to new blazes.
Jewish Federations of Canada/UIA is working closely with agencies throughout Israel to assess ongoing and longer-term needs resulting from this disaster. All our efforts will be in partnership with other federations throughout Canada.
- To provide immediate financial aid to communities on the frontline of the fires.
- To provide support for emergency personnel and their families who have been working around the clock to ensure the safety and security of all the victims of the Blaze.
The Day After:
JFC-UIA staff in Israel will continue to liaise, with local authorities, to asses if their our additional needs for rehabilitation for community facilities including;
- Community centers
- Public playgrounds
All allocations will be done in coordination with our partners in the field;
• RACHEL – The National Emergency Agency
• Keren Hayesod
• Local municipalities
UPDATE from Julia Berger Reitman and Linda Kislowicz, President and CEO of Jewish Federations of Canada
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