“We have completely lost control of the fire,” Hezi Levy, a spokesman for the firefighting service in Haifa told Globes business newspaper an hour ago, speaking of the fire currently destroying a nature reserve and villages in Israel: “I call on all 1500 firefighters in Israel to contact their units and come to the fire in an orderly fashion. The fight for the Carmel is now a fight for Israel.
“Currently, the State of Israel has no firefighting material. It’s all finished.”Some 42 people are known dead, most prison service cadets who’d come to transfer 500 prisoners in evacuation efforts.
The fire is the biggest in Israel’s history, believed to be started at an illegal dumping ground nearby a Druize village. Arson is not ruled out.
Galei Tzhahal, Israel’s Army Radio based in Jaffa, reported “Kibbutz Beit Oren went up in flames; all except a few houses have been burned to the ground.”
Meanwhile Israel has requested assistance from Russia, Greece, Italy and Cyprus to help put out the fire. Three more settlements including the artist village Ein Hod are being evacuated.
In the Hebrew media they are speculating that the fire was started by arsonists – as it appears to have begun in several places at once. Why it was done, or by who? The State has decided that until the crisis is handled, talk of potential perpetrators, or exact cause, will not be dealt with by the local media.
The Carmel Mountain nature reserve is a UNESCO bioreserve (read my story on it). There is much at stake and much, too much, already lost. A sad and bitter irony for Israelis on their second day of Hanukkah.
Read our first update on the Israel fire here.
Above image via AP/Avishag Shar-Yeshuv