Photo Credit: Ariel Kedem / Israel Nature & Parks Authority
Fire near Beit Meir. August 15, 2021

Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman announced Sunday in a tweet that special funding has been approved by the government for damage repair after the wildfire that recently destroyed some 25,000 dunams of forests and nature reserve areas near the area of Kiryat Yea’rim in the Jerusalem Hills.

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The fires broke out in three separate locations simultaneously, fire officials said, leading to an investigation into the possibility an arsonist with or without accomplices, was responsible.

Although the fires were eventually extinguished, last Wednesday they reignited near Kiryat Ye’arim. Six firefighting aircraft and 10 teams of firefighters deployed to the site and contained the fire within a few hours.

A suspected arsonist was arrested last week by police near Highway 38 while trying to set a fire to a wooded area in the foothills of the Jerusalem Hills. He is being investigated in connected with the massive wildfire that took 52 hours of continuous battle by some 1,500 firefighters.

Barely two weeks ago, hundreds of Israeli firefighters and 20 firefighting aircraft – civil and military – managed to finally get control of the wildfire. Air squadrons released 190,000 liters of flame retardant and 516,000 liters of foam in 206 sorties over the area of the blaze, in 238 flight hours.

“The terrible fire in the Jerusalem hills is behind us, but the residents of the area and nature still remain,” Liberman said in his tweet. “That is why today, we in the government have approved a special plan for damage repair at a cost of NIS 60 million (approximately $19 million).

“We have a great obligation to the citizens, the environment and the landscape of our beautiful country, and we will continue to act accordingly.”

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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, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.