MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima), chairman of the Subcommittee for IDF Oversight,
announced over the weekend that the IDF probe into the massive May wildfire at
the Gamla Nature Reserve must be turned over to the Knesset.
In light of
repeated incidents in which IDF forces are believed to have inadvertently
started wildfires, Schneller said he intends to probe the IDF’s internal
investigations in order to understand how such incidents are “repeated so many
“I intend to turn to Defense Minister Ehud Barak so he can
instruct the IDF to hand over the IDF’s probes into the recent fires,” Schneller
said late Thursday.
“However necessary IDF activities may be, they cannot
be allowed to cause damage to Israel’s natural treasures.”
specifically cited the May 27 blaze that destroyed thousands of dunams of the
popular Golan Heights nature reserve and Roman-era historical site.
teams of firefighters and four fire-fighting airplanes joined dozens of
volunteers and employees from the Israel Parks Authority, Jewish National Fund,
Golan Regional Council and two IDF platoons in trying to combat the fire,
believed to have been started during an IDF exercise at a nearby military
In the wake of the fire, the IDF set up a special military
probe, which recently delivered its conclusions.
It reportedly cited a
systemic lack of fire-fighting equipment and called for the establishment of an
IDF firefighting team tasked with accompanying training exercises, as well as
for strengthening organizational understanding of fire prevention.
Gamla fire, which forced the evacuation of numerous rare raptors, caused
extensive damage to the site’s tourist facilities.
The footpath to the
Gamla waterfall was reopened only 10 days ago on account of the
Israel Parks Authority representatives said that since the fire,
thousands of visitors had come to the reserve after Parks Authority
director-general Eli Amitai decided to open the park free of charge in
following the fire.