The view from my veranda

Letter from Jerusalem – Carmel Forest fire


2nd December 2010

This morning the fire department of Haifa and the Carmel Forest region were informed of a forest fire which began in several separate areas, suggesting arson. They raced to prevent the fire spreading but could not succeed. The flames spread toward kibbutzim and moshavim, villages and towns all of which had to be evacuated now there is concern for the Druze town of Tirat ha Carmel.

The exceptionally dry autumn and winter mean that this exquisite nature reserve was tinder dry ensuring the effectiveness of any arson attempt. Fire crews arrived from all over Israel to no avail. The authorities realised that one of Israels jails was in the line of the flames and decided to evacuate the prisoners to other prisons. The difficult exercise involved bringing in warders and warder cadets from other areas to assist. As the bus travelled road number four the flames suddenly engulfed the bus and 40 warders and cadets lost their lives. Following closely behind the bus was Major General Ahuva Tomer, Haifa Police Chief. The Major General is fighting for her life with over 80% burns.

Our fire brigades have exhausted their resources and currently we await assistance from Italy, Cyprus and Greece.

This fire is the worst in Israel’s history, but is not the first that has started in suspicious circumstances.

Prime Minister Netanyahu declared a national state of emergency calling an emergency meeting with the fire, police, ambulance, IDF, and all first response orgnaisations to take combined action against the fire. Mr Netanyahu has asked for help from all the friendly nations nearby and for the United States to send any firefighting aircraft that can reach us in time.
President Peres asked us all to pray for a new Chanuka miracle that this fire will cease.

Druze Member of Knesset Ayoub Kara spoke with anger of the lives of Israels finest lost due to a diabolical crime of arson “Whoever did this should receive the death penalty”.

Israel is burning and praying that even a few of those nations we have helped will return the favour.

Shabbat Shalom and Chanuka Sameach as we face yet another trial.