Israel on Tuesday offered to send a delegation of experts to Chile to provide
assistance in reforestation after the devastating fire in the country’s Torres
de Paine National Park.
Rotem Singer, a young Israeli backpacker, was
arrested on suspicion of accidentally starting the fire. He has denied that he
had anything to do with starting the blaze.
Israeli accused of starting Chile fire denies blame
Singer was the victim of
anti- Semitic slurs when he was brought into court. He has been released from
custody, but his passport was taken from him and he must remain in the Patagonia
region until he is brought to trial.
A statement put out Tuesday by the
Foreign Ministry said Israel expressed “solidarity with the Chilean people in
its sorrow for the damage” caused to the park, located in southern Chile.
“Israel has also experienced a similar disaster last year in the Carmel forest,
and that painful memory enhances our sense of common destiny,” the statement
said, noting “the deep friendship the Israeli people feel toward Chile is as
strong as ever.”
The statement said Israel was ready, “if appropriate, to
donate tree seedlings for the rehabilitation of the park.”
Minister Danny Ayalon spoke by phone with his Chilean counterpart on Tuesday,
and in addition to expressing his sorrow about the fire, also conveyed concern
about how this was unleashing anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli sentiments in the
Chile has a large Palestinian community, and much of the
anti-Israeli sentiment is – according to government sources – coming from some
elements within that community.