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ISRAEL: More help on the way to fight Carmel fire

As more international help continues to fly into Israel to help combat the fire decimating the Carmel woodland, the worst in the country's history, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed thanks for the many helping hands. He has spoken with 30 heads of state over the the last three days and says he finds the mobilization heartwarming. There is "no shame" in receiving help, said Netanyahu. "It is part of our existence in a global village.... We both receive and extend assistance."

The wake-up call was harsh and Netanyahu heard it well.  The prime minister announced his intention to supply Israel with an aerial firefighting force, "which we need in this era of global warming." Speaking Satuday at the command center set up at Haifa University, Netanyahu commented on assistance from the Palestinians, Jordan and Egypt, and said that forming and equipping the force will establish "a regional network for the benefit of our peoples." A proposal for building the force will be submitted quickly and budgeting expedited.

Netanyahu's international efforts have resulted in considerable aerial assistance. At least 10 firefighting aircraft have arrived from Greece, Turkey, Cyprus and Britain to join the team of Israeli dusters. Russia's formidable Ilyushin, with a water capacity of 40,000 liters, has arrived along with other planes and a team of 10 experts. 

Others yet on the way will double the air force fighting the flames; the army is coordinating the arrival and incorporation of the foreign aerial assistance.

The planes work by day, dumping water and fire-retardant chemicals on the fire, but can't work in the dark. By night, efforts are handed over to ground crews bulldozing clearings to keep the fire from spreading, with the high winds picking up at night and threatening to undo daytime progress.

Saturday afternoon, it was called to the prime minister's attention that there is a plane with night-time firefighting capabilities. The Evergreen Supertanker, a Boeing 747, with nearly double the capacity of  the Russian giants, is the world's biggest. I want it, Netanyahu said. Where will the funding come from, his military secretary asked him. "We'll find it," said the prime minister. It costs $200,000 an hour to operate. Within an hour there was a rental contract with the Arizona-based company,  and by 2:30 a.m.  the massive aircraft had rumbled in. 

Also arriving overnight was the U.S. Air Force delivering the first 20 metric tons of fire-retardant chemicals, flown in by two C-130s from the U.S. military's European Command at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. More flights are scheduled to keep a constant supply.

The U.S. ambassador to Israel, James B. Cunningham, greeted them on the tarmac. "We are pleased to join efforts of many other friends of Israel" who are now engaged on the ground in dealing with the fire, Cunningham said. "Our prayers go out to those who have lost loved ones and have suffered as a result of the fire."

 President Obama had called Netanyahu on the way back from visiting troops in Afghanistan, expressed his condolences and discussed aid details. Netanyahu thanked him personally and on behalf of the entire country.

The aerial efforts and shifts in the wind are starting to make inroads, but officials are still wary of expressing much optimism. The situation is under control, authorities say, but the fire isn't. There is hope that Sunday, as the huge planes begin their attack, the fire may be brought under control.

Meanwhile, police say that two brothers, ages 14 and 16, might be responsible for the giant blaze that has left a nation mourning the deaths of more than 40 people, as well as the loss of 5 million trees and a much-loved  landscape. Authorities didn't elaborate, but the direction of the investigation seems to be negligence, not arson. The boys' mother says they were in school at the time, and other relatives say authorities are looking for excuses to evade their own responsibility.

-- Batsheva Sobelman in Jerusalem

Top: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanks Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, one of many calls he has made.

Bottom: U.S. Ambassador James B. Cunningham welcomes U.S. flights delivering firefighting chemicals.


Comments () | Archives (12)

Israeli papers say the 14 yr old boy admitting the two were smoking a hooka and dumped a hot coal without putting it out. Worse, he saw that it became a small fire and said and did nothing about it. Playing hookie from school to go for a smoke, apparently?

@ geo88a not stated, numerous, but not all young prison warden trainees on the bus were Druze.

i would like to thank those who have come to our aid the fire was so furious that even trying to bring a small area under control,was a mamouth task.
the poor people caught without help,i am sure died quickly and bravely,and my wishes go to their parents and loved ones,long life.
israel has not turned its back when it was able to help others,and we will not forget the help that we are receiving now from the brave people who have come to help us.
its well known that i do not like radical islam,like millions of others world-wide and their parties and dancing in the streets just goes to show that any disaster in israel/west is met with joy,by people who have a party when their own children blow them-selves up. but i do wish to thank those who came to help,with good hearts,and the good wishes we have received. thank you.

To raise the banner of racism, is usually the first ejaculation of a racist.
ABG, look, Israel has some serious issues that affect Americans.
After all we help pay for their war machine. So, I think is fair game to criticize, our ally. Without being bombarded with they don't like us because we're Jews. That's nonsense!
Get your head straight, shake up that inferiority complex of yours.

Follow up thought: The LA Times in notorious for allowing anonymous individuals to bash the legitimate State of Israel which they do out of racism, fun, and ignorance. These discussion boards mean absolutely zero when the consistent premise is that "Israel occupies Palestinian land." Frigging Yawn.

Sure, Anon. Maybe a meaningful discussion will come after you accept that 63 years have passed since the legitimate creation of Israel.

Ah, but because you deny reality, you become the victim to my big, bad brute. Poor, pitiful you.

No doubt in my mind that poster ABG is a cyber-bully, shame, thick head like his/hers, can have a meaningful discussion.....I pity the fool

It's just a brush fire, but of course it's happening in a state with rampant crying wolf syndrome and love affair with rich foreign masters!

Agreed, Israel have always been run by generals and military men if one check the past careers of their PM and other cabinet post holders, but of course since they wear civilian clothes and don't kill the previous generals, they're not one of those Bananastan's :)

Speaking of lame, blackzappy, your message is nothing but baseless and callous. Not that you would understand that.

This is what happens when you're obsessed with war fighting capability and initiating wars in the region, you neglect emergency services required for natural disasters or those caused by accident.

Pretty lame going in occupied Palestine.

@RWh, is it important to you where the money come from? human beings are suffering from these fires (death and relocation). We all have the duty to help. Money should not be mentioned. that's kind of indecent. what is the value of money if you prefer to sacrifice a fellow human for it? but then again, I am a european muslim, maybe money is not that important to us...cultural difference I guess...

..."Where will the funding come from, his military secretary asked him. "We'll find it," said the prime minister."
Guess, the American taxpayer, that's who.

Are the 2 boys, Druze?


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