December 3, 2010
by Dan Brown
This post is current as of 7:40 am EST; we will update (see below) as additional information becomes available.
While the fire in Israel’s north continues to burn out of control, there is optimism that with the arrival of fire-fighting helicopters from Greece, Turkey and the U.K., along with a contingent of 100 Bulgarian firefighters, the fire will shortly be contained. An aircraft from Russia is also en-route. Many other countries, including Egypt, Azerbaijan, Spain, Croatia, France and Jordan are providing various types of assistance.
15,000 Israelis have been displaced from their homes including the religious settlement of Nir Etzion and Druze villages on the Carmel. Many of the evacuees have found their own solutions. The Jewish Agency can immediately provide housing for 2000, if needed.
Both the Jewish Agency and JDC have activated emergency networks and are in close contact with the various Government of Israel Ministries and the local municipalities. Close attention is being paid to the region’s vulnerable populations, including the elderly, disabled and youth at risk.
With students on Chanukah break from schools, the Jewish Agency will begin organized activities following Shabbat, geared to those in communities either destroyed or in disarray. Those programs will include students from the Dalia and Issawiya Druze villages.
The JDC will be focusing on immediate rehabilitation programs, including psycho-social support, to the affected populations. Their emergency response systems, developed during the second intifada as well as the Second Lebanon War, are in place to ensure all support and assistance required by those in need can be provided.
Both agencies, like many others, are awaiting a needs assessment from the Government as to where they can be most helpful. At Sunday morning’s Cabinet meeting, a national plan to deal with all the needs of those injured and are in distress, will be presented.
In the meantime, many organizations have launched fundraising campaigns, including the Jewish Federations in conjunction with their partners at the Jewish Agency and JDC. For more, check out this resource page from JFNA.
The Jewish National Fund’s (JNF) Forest Fire Campaign page is here.
The Jewish Agency’s Critical Request for Fire Disaster Relief page is here.
In cooperation with The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) and the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism, the Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA) has established the Carmel Fire-Israel Emergency Fund to help Israel battle the worst fire in the country’s history.
The Chicago Jewish community has already committed $350K and we understand other communities have indicated their readiness to provide emergency support.
update 5:00 pm: According to the Jewish National Fund, 2 firefighters have died in addition to the 41 prison guards, more than 25,000 people have been evacuated, residential homes have been lost and more than 8,000 acres of forests are on fire – about ½ of the Carmel Forest. Many people are being treated for burns and smoke inhalation.
Firefighters and foresters are working around the clock to bring the fire under control as strong winds and dry conditions hamper their efforts and supplies run desperately short.