Home > JFNA Briefing: Jewish Federations, Overseas Partners Respond to Israeli Forest Fire
JEWISH FEDERATIONS, OVERSEAS PARTNERS RESPOND TO ISRAEL
FOREST FIRE CRISIS
Federations of North America and their overseas partners JDC and the Jewish
Agency are mobilizing on the ground in Israel, in response to the
massive forest fires raging in the north.
JAFI was working with
youth movements to open camps for displaced children on Friday; to make up to
1,000 shelter beds available for displaced families; and to begin outreach to
Response Team was activated, working with local Israeli authorities to monitor
the situation, especially focused on the most vulnerable including the elderly.
also responded across the spectrum in their own ways, some opening
emergency mailboxes. Those who wish to can donate to a special JFNA
emergency fund. Checks should be sent to the Israel Forest Fire Disaster
Relief Fund, and made payable to The Jewish Federations of North America,
care of: Wall Street Station, PO Box 148, New York, NY 10268. Funds can also be
donated online at this dedicated page.
JFNA also created this
special information resource page on the crisis, which
includes news stories and other resources, and will be updated. JFNA continues
to monitor the situation and will keep Federations updated as details are
The fires, which began
outside the Druze village of Usfiya on Thursday morning after a major heat wave,
spread across the Carmel Mountain region and sent massive plumes of thick smoke
into the sky. Thousands of people were forced to evacuate and dozens died when
they were trapped in the flames.
Several kibbutzim and
villages, including Nir Etzion, Ein Hod, Ein Hid and Beit Oren and the Druze
village of Isfiyeh, as well as the Carmel Forest Hotel, were evacuated Thursday
afternoon. Haifa University was also evacuated. Tragically, a bus
carrying 40 wardens to the Damon Prison near Kibbutz Beit Oren to help evacuate
Israeli and Palestinian prisoners was engulfed in wind-driven flames and the
passengers died instantly. The head of Haifa Police, Deputy Commander Ahuva
Tomer, was critically burned and rushed to Rambam Medical Center.
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited a forward command center in Haifa,
and called the fire "unprecedented." He was quoted in the Jerusalem Post as
saying, "We have never known a tragedy of this scope." Prime Minister Netanyahu
said the focus was on keeping people out of the fire zone and extinguishing the
blaze. Greece, Cyprus and Spain were sending firefighting aircraft in response
to appeals, he said, while Israel continue to speak with officials in Jordan,
Russia and elsewhere for support.
Defense Minister Ehud
Barak mobilized Israeli troops to assist firefighting efforts as well. Netanyahu
said he would convene his Cabinet Friday morning to brief them on the
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