Emergency Update: Fires Rage in Israel due to Severe Weather Conditions

Thursday, November 24, 2016

For the past three days, KKL-JNF staff and firefighters have been battling the fires that have erupted all over Israel.


Firefighters continue to battle with the flames and ask citizens to stay away from areas where fires are raging. KKL-JNF firefighters are battling the fires around the clock to contain the flames and prevent them from spreading.
 

For the past three days, KKL-JNF staff and firefighters have been battling the fires that have erupted all over Israel, which have already destroyed thousands of acres of forests and caused huge damage to people and property. Almost no rain has fallen since the beginning of autumn, everything is dry after the long summer, and since the beginning of the week, strong eastern winds have been blowing throughout the country. These conditions make it very easy for fires to start, and almost impossible to stop them once they have begun. The fires are thought to be caused mainly by Palestinian terror-related arson and partly by negligence.

KKL-JNF Coastal Plain Forests Director Gilad Mastei said that the current weather conditions in Israel are reminiscent of those that preceded the huge 2010 Carmel forest fire. He warned that the places where the fires are raging “are dangerous, and unauthorized people should not go near them. Even after the fires are suppressed, trees collapse so people must stay away from burnt forests until KKL-JNF says otherwise.”

In the Judean Mountains, fires continue to spread and break out at different sites. According to Gidi Bashan, KKL-JNF Jerusalem Mountains forester, “this is the biggest fire we’ve had for six years. We already can estimate that over 1,000 acres of forests have been destroyed in the Jerusalem area alone.”


 


Tziyon Biton, KKL-JNF Central Region Operations Officer, said that ‘we’re fighting to protect our homes, forests and parks. Entire forests have been wiped out. We’re fighting for every tree.”

KKL-JNF estimates that until now, over 1800 acres of forests and natural woodlands were destroyed in dozens of forest fires throughout Israel. In the Jerusalem mountains alone, about 1,100 acres went up in flames.

KKL-JNF declared a full mobilization of its firefighting forces, who were joined by additional staff to be a part of the general effort to save the forests.

More than 200 KKL-JNF staff and firefighters, together with 20 fire trucks and heavy mechanical equipment are part of the firefighting efforts in forests and open spaces.

The main fire locations include Eshataol Forest, where 115 acres of forest were burnt; the huge fire in the Jerusalem Mountains, which began next to the community of Nataf and spread to other forest locations, including Canada Ayalon Park, and destroyed about 1,150 acres of forest until now. This fire is considered the largest forest fire in recent years, since the 2010 Carmel forest fire. Also – Hazorea Forest, Horshim Forest, Gilon Forest, Om el-Fahem Forest, Devira Forest, and more.

We will provide more detailed updates on Sunday, after KKL-JNF staff will have made fuller assessments of the damage and initial estimates of what will need to be done in terms of forest rehabilitation.