The Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA) has requested that those
participating in Lag Ba’omer festivities avoid kindling large bonfires close to
open spaces and beaches, warning that the environmental damage caused by the
thousands of holiday fires is not limited to air pollution alone.
of fires will overtake Israel on Wednesday night, and fire trucks as well as
Magen David Adom crews will be on standby to handle out-of-control fires and
human burns, according to the INPA.
Meanwhile, park inspectors will also
be on patrol, alerting those participating in fires to adhere to the
Humans are not putting just themselves at risk by haphazardly
planning their bonfires, the INPA warned.
Future generations of sea
turtles, an endangered species that comes to the beaches to lay eggs during this
time period, can potentially be destroyed by beach fires, the INPA’s National
Center for Sea Turtle Rescue said.
“It is time that we start educating
ourselves about ‘ecological’ fires – small and modest fires in place of the huge
bonfires that characterize Lag Ba’omer,” said Yigal Ben-Ari, head of the INPA’s
“The damage is not limited to smoke alone. After a
winter blessed with rains, we have open spaces dense with vegetation – much of
which is already dry – and one spark is sufficient to incite a giant
Already on Sunday, prior to Lag Ba’omer, the INPA struggled to
fight three fires in open areas around the country, which necessitated the rapid
release of three firefighting planes.
Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael- Jewish
National Fund also warned that the holiday bonfires can cause tremendous damage
to the environment, and reminded revelers to take safety precautions when
igniting flames. Precautions include using only dry branches and not those with
green leaves, cleaning up all fire waste, staying away from forests and making
sure not to burn plastic products, which release carcinogens into the
Air pollution during the holiday will be tremendous, the
organization added. On a normal day, for example, Jerusalem air contains about
50 micrograms of particles per cubic meter of air, while on Lag Ba’omer this
number jumps by 10.
Einat Kramer, director of Jewish environmental
organization Teva Ivri, encouraged the public to keep fires small and intimate,
and share them with larger groups of people. She also warned against burning
carcinogenic materials and reminded people to “leave no trace” of their fires,
as any garbage left can pose a hazard to area wildlife. While celebrating Lag
Ba’omer with bonfires is important to tradition and should continue, it is
important that nature does not “pay the price” for human carelessness, said
“It is fine to connect one day of the year to the element of fire
that is within us and to the wonders of sitting around a fire – especially when
relating to a tradition that apparently dates back to the 1300s,” she
“And especially when it is relatively easy to reduce the
environmental damages and still celebrate with song and joy.”
effect, the Ra’anana municipality will be taking specific measures to protect
the environment by prohibiting individual classroom fires and instead,
consolidating multiple classes for joint celebrations.
“Bonfires are a
very significant cause of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions,” Ra’anana
Mayor Nahum Hofri said. “Tradition can be consistent with maintaining values of
nature by means of executing shared bonfires.”