plane carmel fire.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
The IDF Home Front Command began the inquiry phase of its participation in the
battle to extinguish the Carmel Forest fire since Thursday amid concern within
the defense establishment regarding what will happen if a fire of a similar
scale breaks out during a war.
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On Sunday, the Border Police went on high
alert in northern Israel as well as around Jerusalem, worried that Palestinians
or even Israeli-Arabs might try to set fires throughout the
Since last week, seven people have been arrested for allegedly
trying to start forest fires.
“Imagine that in a future war, as missiles
are landing in our cities we will face a forest fire like the scale of the
Carmel forest fire,” one defense official said on Monday.
Israeli intelligence assessments, during a future war with Hizbullah, the group
will be able to fire several hundred missiles and rockets daily into Israel,
some of them with the capability of hitting main population centers like Tel
If that happens, the fear is that almost all of Israel’s emergency
services will be preoccupied with rescue and relief efforts inside the cities
and little resources will be left for combating forest fires.
Second Lebanon War in 2006, while rockets landed frequently in cities in the
North, particularly in Haifa, they also landed in fields and forests, burning
down some 15,000 dunams (1,500 hectares). At the time, planes were sent to
Europe to bring back fire-retardant materials to extinguish the raging forest
“This could turn into a major weak spot for the country,”
the official said. “We have limited resources and will not be able to be
everywhere at once.”
In the meantime, Deputy Defense Minister Matan
Vilna’i is also probing the performance of the Defense Ministry’s National
Emergency Administration and the coordination among the various emergency
services that participated in battling the blaze in the North.
results will be presented to Defense Minister Ehud Barak by the end of the
Meanwhile on Monday, MK Nachman Shai (Kadima) warned that the next
“weak link” in the Israeli home front was the shortage in gas masks for the
general population. In June, The Jerusalem Post
revealed that the IDF lacks 40
percent of the number of gas masks required to complete the distribution of the
kits to the entire Israeli public.
“The Carmel disaster proves that there
are other weak links in Israeli home front defenses,” said Shai, who is a member
of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. “Four out of 10 Israelis will be
left without gas masks, and already now it is obvious that at the last minute
everyone will look for spare masks and they might not find any.”