Photo Credit: Meir Vaknin / Flash 90
Israeli aerial firefighter aircraft try to extinguish a fire raging in the northern Israeli city of Haifa on November 24, 2016.

As an estimated 220 fires raged across central and northern Israel, foreign nations sent firefighting aircraft flying to the aid of the Jewish State.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pointed out at a briefing Wednesday that some countries were sending aerial firefighters, but said it was clear that more were going to be needed.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan, Israel Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh, Minister of Construction Yoav Galant and Minister of Interior Affairs Aryeh Deri brief media in the port city of Haifa. Flames forced 80,000 to evacuate from the city and surrounds.
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“Firefighting planes from Israel and around the world are the critical component… That’s why we built the fire air squadron and it’s doing an excellent job. Countries are joining hands… Russia, Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Croatia and Turkey have already answered the call.”

By Thursday morning, Israel’s Foreign Ministry had announced via Twitter and other social media venues: “The Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations has sent two Beriev Be-200 amphibious aircraft to fight the fires in Israel.”

The ministry didn’t forget to offer the nation’s thanks to everyone who sent help in Israel’s hour of need. “Thank you #Cyprus, #Croatia, #Greece, #Italy, #Russia, #Turkey, #Romania & Bulgaria for sending help to fight the fires in Israel. True friends!” tweeted the ministry on the Twitter social networking site.

Smoke billows over an apartment house in Haifa.

Four firefighting aircraft arrived from Cyprus and Greece alone. Included were 49 crew members, one Air Tractor from Cyprus and two Bombardiers and one Hercules from Greece, all ready for immediate battle and highly valued for their carrying capacity. Additional aircraft arrived from Russia, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Italy and Croatia.

The entire State of Israel had only 2,500 fire personnel at last count in 2013, including 1,800 firefighters. According to Israel Fire and Rescue Authority, only some seven percent of Israel’s total area is comprised of forest land, about 400,560 acres (1,621,000 dunams.) Each year, an average of 1,000 fires blaze in Jewish National Fund (JNF) forests in the country, affecting some 37,000 dunams (about 9,000 acres) of land.

Fire and Rescue Commissioner Shahar Ayalon, appointed under the Ministry of Public Security, is working together with Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh and other top security officials to bring the current crisis to an end.

“Every fire caused by arson, or incitement to commit arson, is terrorism for all intents and purposes,” Netanyahu underlined at the briefing, “and we will bring them to justice.”

Update for our readers in Azerbaijan, on Friday (Nov. 25) Azerbaijan sent a fire-fighting plane.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.

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