Israeli Fires: A message from Israel – and a message from FM Rudd

December 3, 2010 Agencies
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The Israeli Embassy in Canberra has issued the following statement to the Australian community following the tragic fires in Israel which have so far claimed 40 lives. Australia has offered help.

Message from the Embassy of Israel to Australia

Re: National Disaster- Forest Fires in Israel’s North

Today, Israel faces a human, environmental and historic tragedy. Already, at least 40 people have died as a result of the largest fire in Israel’s history.

The State of Israel is taking all necessary steps to preserve and save life and to contain the fire, protecting property and the environment.

To this end, we welcome the offered assistance from neighbours and friends across the world, including Europe and the United States, who have pledged to work with us to combat this unprecedented challenge for the State of Israel.

In particular, we wish to thank and acknowledge the government and people of Australia, who have graciously offered their assistance and expertise, even from the far side of the world. These actions highlight the deep friendship between our two nations, and shows Australia’s willingness to stand with us during in this trying moment.

Our hearts and prayers are with the families of those tragically killed, as well as those whose homes and livelihoods are under threat. To that end, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced his intention to declare a national day of mourning be held across the nation next week.

Additional information is available (in English)

Additional information is available (in Hebrew)

From Bahrain, Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has issued the following statement:

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd

On behalf of the Government and Australian people, I express my deep concern and extend condolences on the loss of at least 40 lives from bushfires still raging out of control near Haifa, in northern Israel.

My feelings are with the people affected, including those who have been evacuated.

Australia knows directly the devastating impact inflicted by bushfires.

Australia shares a strong friendship with Israel and the Israeli people.

The friendship is strengthened by Australia’s Jewish community which has very close ties to Israel.  They will be particularly affected by this tragedy.

I intend to personally convey my condolences to my Israeli counterpart shortly.

I understand several of Israel’s neighbours are sending assistance to help tackle the fires, including aircraft. At this point, given the urgency, we understand that Israel is seeking assistance from countries in its region.

Australia stands ready to offer assistance to Israel. Israeli authorities are considering what assistance could be of practical benefit.

Our Embassy in Tel Aviv has been in contact with relevant authorities in Israel who advise that at this stage, there is no indication that any Australians have been injured or killed as a result of the forest fire near Haifa.  Our Embassy continues to monitor the situation there closely.

I will travel to Israel later this month for an official visit and will convey my sincere condolences in person to Israeli leaders and people.

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