Lions Israel volunteers group photo in Be'eri Forest.
(photo credit: YOAV DEVIR KKL-JNF)
Wed, Oct 10: About 200 retirees in Lions Israel engaged in volunteer work in Be’eri Forest near the Gaza Border. The volunteers cleared away cuttings, with the goal of reducing fire against the background of arson from Gaza sweeping through the region in the past months.
Avi Yanous, branch director of education at the Eshkol Regional Council, came to welcome those present and thank them for their activity. “It’s heartwarming to meet you here in our beautiful region of the country, your work helps us and also strengthens our spirit.”
Dozens of incendiary kites and balloons are being launched by terrorists across the border every day, towards the forests, nature reserves, and agricultural fields on the Israeli side. KKL-JNF’s fire fighters, along with additional forces, have been on constant alert for six months, and are called to put out dozens of fires in forests and open fields every day.
About 12 square kilometers of forests and grove have gone up in flames over the course of the last few months, in 1,053 fires in the area surrounding the Gaza Strip. This constitutes more than half the forested area in the region. The two forests that have suffered the most damage are Be’eri forest, with 452 fires and 3.6 square kilometers burned, and Kissufim forest, with 353 fires and 5.2 square kilometers burned.
“KKL-JNF is embracing the periphery and assisting in finding a response to our neighbor’s attacks,” said Danny Gigi, director of the KKL-JNF Southern Region. “We’ve suffered serious damages, but we’re not despairing.”
He explained that KKL-JNF’s mission in rehabilitating the forests is to remove the hazards, let nature take its course, and intervene proportionately, when intervention is necessary.
The Lions is a volunteer organization, working to benefit the community and to increase understanding between people throughout the world. The Lions Clubs International includes approximately 1,350,000 members in 42,000 clubs operating in 206 countries. In Israel, there are close to 1,000 Lions volunteers in 32 clubs across the country.
On this day the volunteers’ main mission was to clear away the cuttings from the forest. Danny Ben David, director of the KKL-JNF West Negev district, guided them before the work and explained, “The cuttings dry up and become kindling. Taking it out of the forest decreases the risk to the trees in case of a fire.”