Netanyahu sad Carmel 311.
(photo credit: Guy Assayag)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stopped foreign fire-fighting planes from
arriving in Israel Sunday afternoon, as the forces already in the air brought
the Carmel blaze under control.
At the weekly cabinet meeting, which was
held in solidarity in Tirat Carmel, he thanked the many heads of state who have
offered Israel assistance over the last four days.
OC Air Force Maj.-Gen.
Ido Nehushtan told the cabinet that out of the 35 firefighting planes that flew
over the flames on Sunday, 24 were from abroad, including the US supertanker
that can carry 80,000 liters of water.
In the last few days, he said,
there have been 409 such flights over the blaze.
Netanyahu continued to
defend the need to call for international assistance.
“It must be
understood that this is an entirely different kind of war. [We are] not dealing
with regular fires; therefore, we must utilize various measures here which are
different from those that are normally used,” he said.
He said he had
sought assistance from 30 countries.
“The firefighters are doing holy
work, but it must be understood that this kind of wildfire can only be defeated
and extinguished from the air,” said Netanyahu.
Massive forest fires are
different from routine fires, he said, and the only way to deal with them is
with the help of local and international forces.
When fires raged out of
control in California, the US sought help from eight countries, Netanyahu
The US “neither hesitated nor was ashamed to request this
assistance, including from countries from which we have made similar requests.
In last summer’s massive wildfire in Russia, Russia neither hesitated nor was
ashamed to request assistance from Ukraine and from other countries. We also did
not hesitate, nor were we ashamed, in requesting such assistance. This is what
we did and it has led to results,” said Netanyahu.
He reiterated his call
to establish a special local aerial fire-fighting force.
cautioned, “Even if we had such a force, and we are working on it, it will not
always free us of the need to mobilize international support, but it would give
us the possibility of bringing an aerial ‘cup of water’ to fires.”
in spite of his defense of Israel’s need to galvanize international support,
Netanyahu has asked the state comptroller to investigate Israel’s preparedness
for and treatment of the Carmel blaze. The State Comptroller’s Office was
already investigating Israel’s fire-fighting capacity, and Netanyahu has asked
it to include the Carmel blaze in that report.
Speaking to Channel 2 on
Sunday night, State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss said he had no intention of
delaying the publication of his report to include the current fire and added it
would be submitted by the end of the week.
Addressing the bereaved
families of the prison guards who were killed on Thursday when their bus caught
fire, Netanyahu said, “Our hearts go out to the families who are laying to rest
their loved ones.
The entire nation identifies with your pain and with
the heroism of those who perished.”
He also thanked Foreign Minister
Avigdor Lieberman and the Foreign Ministry in general, National Security Council
chairman Uzi Arad, the firefighters, police, soldiers, Magen David Adom and ZAKA
rescue and recovery organization personnel, municipality employees and other
“There has been a general mobilization of the entire
nation in a display of mutual responsibility at this crucial time,” Netanyahu
After the cabinet meeting Netanyahu met with members of the Druse
village Usfiya, some of whose residents were among the 41 dead.
that here on this hill, Druse, Muslims, Christians and Jews all lived together
in the shade of the same trees and were working to ensure a future for
“I know that in this battle you lost sons from the Druse
community who were buried today alongside their fellow Jews. I want to express
my condolences to those families,” the prime minister said.