Israel offers aid to Chile after forest fire

Country expresses solidarity with Chilean people; Israeli backpacker suspected of accidentally starting devastating fire.

By
January 3, 2012 12:24
1 minute read.
Fires in Chile, Torres del Paine national park

Fires rage in Chilean Torres del Paine national park 311 R. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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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.

RELATED:
Israeli accused of starting Chile fire denies blame


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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.”

Deputy Foreign 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 country.

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.

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