Israeli firefighters on their way to Brazil

The delegation is comprised of experts in rescue, intelligence and both bush and forest fires.

September 4, 2019 12:51
1 minute read.
Burning forest is seen during "Operation Green Wave" to combat illegal logging in Amazon rainforest

Burning forest is seen during "Operation Green Wave" to combat illegal logging in the Amazon rainforest. (photo credit: BRUNO KELLY/REUTERS)

A team of eleven specialized Israeli firefighters was sent to Brazil to help to fight the blazes that are devastating the Amazon rainforest.

According to a statement by the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, members of the team belong to the Israel Fire and Rescue Services.

They were expected to leave Israel on Tuesday night.

The dispatched delegation, comprised of experts in the fields of rescue, intelligence and bush and forest fires, is headed by Deputy Commander of the Northern District Yair Elkayam.

"We have the experience, although not with such large fires. The strategies do not change. We are also bringing technology from Israel," Elkayam told the army radio on Tuesday.

On August 24, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to express his solidarity and support for the rainforest crisis. Following the conversation, Bolsonaro tweeted that his country had accepted the offer of a specialized aircraft to cooperate in their efforts against the fires.

Israel's offer and Brazil's response was widely reported by international media, especially because many other offers for help by the international community had not been received as warmly.

Since the beginning of 2019, a record number of rainforest fires have broken out in the Amazon.

A political controversy regarding the nature of the fires and the attitude of the Brazilian government has also been raging, with many, including local and international environmental organizations and foreign leaders, accusing Bolsonaro of undermining the efforts to preserve the environment.

However, both Netanyahu and Minister of Foreign Affairs Israel Katz have praised Brasilia's efforts to cope with the emergency.

The Israeli team is expected to offer support to the local forces fighting the fires. The Israeli embassy and the IDF Military Attaché in Brasilia are coordinating with the Brazilian authorities.


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