Netanyahu thanks Egypt's Sisi for sending helicopters to fight flames

Netanyahu made the comments while with Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan at the Emergency and Rescue Forces headquarters in Tel Hadid on Friday.

By JERUSALEM POST STAFF
May 24, 2019 18:18
2 minute read.
Damages from fires that raged throughout Israel, May 23

Damages from fires that raged throughout Israel, May 23. (photo credit: FIRE AND RESCUE SERVICE)

 
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Italy, Cyprus, Greece, Croatia and "my friend, Egyptian President [Abdel Fattah] el-Sisi" for sending planes, helicopters and aid to Israel to help fight the wildfires that have ravaged the country since Thursday.

The prime minister said that Egypt had sent two helicopters.

Netanyahu made the comments while with Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan at the Emergency and Rescue Forces headquarters in Tel Hadid on Friday. The two received updates on the state of the fires and discussed how to prevent further ones.

EU Ambassador to Israel Emanuele Giaufret said on Friday that Israel requested and will receive the assistance of four European planes to help put out the fires. The firefighting airplanes are coming from Cyprus and Italy and will assist with wildfires that were sparked due to a heatwave throughout the country, he said. They were expected to arrive Friday afternoon.

"We have also received offers [of aid] from other [countries]," Netanyahu said, "from the PA and from other sources, and four to six countries, including Russia, are already prepared to send practical help."

While most of the fires around the country have been contained, the heatwave in Israel threatens to spark more fires throughout the day.

Residents of many towns throughout Israel began to understand on Friday morning the devastating impact of the fires that burned dozens of houses to the ground and left at least 3,500 people evacuated from their homes on Thursday from the more than 20 fires that raged across the state. Injuries were minimal, however, with just several people lightly injured or treated for smoke inhalation.

After an investigation by the Fire Department, Israel Police, Nature and Parks Authority, the Home Front Command, MDA, and others, residents from the neighborhoods of Shilat, Gimzo, and Kfar Daniel were allowed to return home Friday morning, according to Maariv. Route 443 remained closed to traffic between Modiín and the Ben Shemen Junction and Highway 44 from Rishon Lezion to the Nachshon Junction was blocked to traffic in both directions.

"I want to thank the firefighters, the policemen, the pilots, and all the forces for their extraordinary cooperation doing very hard work in difficult conditions - both yesterday and today - and as much as necessary," Netanyahu said.

Israel's President Reuven Rivlin also spoke with the commissioner of the country's Fire and Rescue Services on Friday, thanking them for their service, Maariv reported.

"I thank the firefighters on behalf of all the people for their deep devotion and commitment. We have seen events of this kind in developed countries and there are usually casualties or loss of life," he said, insinuating that there had been minimal casualties due to the quick response by the fire and rescue service.

The fire commissioner thanked the president for strengthening the fighters, and promised that he would make every effort to put an end to the continued fires in the near future.

The first fire broke out Thursday near Beit Hagai in the southern Hebron Hills, followed by others in the West Bank and Jerusalem. More fires ignited throughout Thursday.

The residents of Moshav Mevo Modiin were evacuated from their homes Thursday afternoon after a massive fire engulfed the area. At least 16 private homes in the area were in flames Thursday night, according to police.

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