This week, the incendiary balloon attacks from Gaza have returned in full force, and fires are raging in the Western Negev and the Gaza Envelope. As in the past, KKL-JNF firefighters are leading the battle against the flames.
KKL-JNF Western Negev Forester Moshe Baruchi reported on Wednesday (June 26, 2019) that since the beginning of the week, KKL-JNF firefighters have dealt with more than 25 fires, with 13 of them occurring in a single day (Tuesday, June 25). Among the affected areas were parts of the Shokeda, Shimhoni, Be’eri and Kissufim forests. In some cases, the fires raged perilously close to KKL-JNF picnic and recreation areas, but the lightning response of the KKL-JNF firefighting crews halted the danger in its tracks.
KKL-JNF currently has two fire alert teams on call in the region - including 15 fire fighters and 2 all-terrain firetrucks - working in full cooperation with crews from the Israel Fire and Rescue Services and the Nature and Parks Authority, and local civilian volunteers.
Said Moshe Baruchi: "You have to understand that the staff manning the alert teams and battling the flames are the very people that normally nurture the forests, and it’s very painful to witness the damage. However, I can say that comprehensive preventative measures that were put in place after the incendiary kite fires from last year, including creating firebreaks, upgrading roads and introducing intensive grazing to these areas, led to much smaller fires this time around. These are not the thousands of acres that burned down last year."
Baruchi added that at this stage, it was still too early to talk about rehabilitating the burnt areas and believes that in most cases, “nature will be able to do its job and renew itself”.