Photo Credit: Shalev Shalom/TPS
Shoshanna and Micah Harari stand inside their burnt home and factory in Moshav Ramat Raziel in the Jerusalem mountains. Micah Harari, an artist who manufactures King David Biblical Harps and Door Harps, lost all of his handmade harps in the huge wildfire which was active for two days. Jerusalem, Aug 20, 2021.

Following the wildfires that ripped through the Jerusalem Hills approximately two weeks ago, the Cabinet approved on Monday an assistance and rehabilitation plan for dealing with the damages that were caused in the area.

The fires, which raged for over two days and consumed some 25,000 dunams of trees and greenery, are believed to have been ignited by arsonists. The fires were started simultaneously at three separate spots. The Shin Bet security agency is involved in the investigation, as it is believed to have been the work of Arab terrorists.

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The fires led to the evacuation of the communities of Beit Meir, Shoresh, Shoeva, Kisalon, Givat Yearim, Ramat Raziel, Tzuba and the medical facility at Eitanim, and caused extensive damage in the area.

The fires also burned thousands of dunams of forest and natural growth, damaged springs and nature and heritage sites, trails and nature reserves, and led to the deaths of many animals.

The plan, which was formulated by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg, Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman, and Interior minister Ayelet Shaked, allocates NIS 2.6 million for immediate assistance in financing urgent and immediate emergency expenses and for lodging expenditures by the local council for residents who were evacuated from their homes due to fire damage.

Another NIS 5 million will be allocated to the local council for expenditures incurred in clearing asbestos debris as a result of the fire, which the government recognizes as having a significant environmental impact.

The Environmental Protection Ministry will formulate within 60 days a NIS 60 million action plan for the ecological rehabilitation of the open areas and nature sites that were damaged in the fire, in cooperation with the Nature and Parks Authority, JNF-KKL, the Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry, the local council and other agencies.

A sum of NIS 400,000 will be allocated by the Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services Ministry for social affairs and social services rehabilitation plans for the communities that were damaged by the fires, in cooperation with the ministry and the local council.

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Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.