Netanyahu and Rivlin visit the fire regions

November 28, 2016 Agencies
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The Israeli cabinet has held a special meeting in Haifa, one of the most badly-affected regions in the current fire crisis across Israel. 

Netanyahu said: “First, I would like to commend the IDF soldiers who, this morning, successfully repelled an attack against in the border triangle area. We are well prepared on our northern border and we will not allow any Daesh or other hostile elements, under cover of the war in Syria, to establish themselves adjacent to our borders.

En route here this morning I spoke with Rama Ben-Tzvi; her and her husband’s restaurant in the Jerusalem hills was completely burnt. I think that we all know how much love they have invested in this, their life’s work, for 20 years and in an instant, it went up in flames. The fire there and in other places burned property, it burned objects replete with memories, it even burned animals in some places, but to our joy, this time we were well-prepared and it did not burn lives; we maintained lives. I told Rama that we would help her rebuild her restaurant forthwith. The Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office has already spoken to her. This, in effect, is our message to all Israeli citizens whose homes and property were hit by the fires: We will help you rebuild your homes and your lives forthwith and this is the main goal of this special Cabinet meeting this morning in Haifa.

We have come to Haifa and we have invited council heads from across the north whose communities were affected by the fires in order to give them clear message: All government ministries are committed to extending a hand to you quickly, to shorten the bureaucracy, and I say to brutally shorten the bureaucracy, to bring you assistance, relief and rebuilding as soon as possible. In the meantime, we will do everything necessary to maintain your remaining property.

Immediately upon concluding my remarks, I will ask my fellow ministers – the ministers of Public Security, Finance and Interior – who, I must say, from the outset, have worked tirelessly in the field, to report on their ministries’ activities.

Later, I will ask the other ministers to do so. Of course, we will be measured by results and not by processes, by deeds and not words. We will be measured by results. The event is still not over. There are reports now of a fire in the Zichron area and several other locales, that seem as if they are rekindling. We are working on all fronts, including law enforcement. Whoever starts a fire, either by malice or negligence, whoever incites to arson – we will act against them with full force.

There is no doubt that thanks to the courage of the firefighters, the pilots from Israel and abroad, and to the determined response of the Israel Police, MDA, IDF, Home front Command and the other rescue forces, the local councils represented here and the extraordinary spirit shown by Israeli citizens – thanks to all these, we achieved impressive control of the fires which, to a certain extent, were much more complicated and much more difficult than the Carmel fire.

On Friday, I received a meteorological report, which indicated difficult conditions vis-à-vis dryness and the weather, the combination of temperatures and the wind and continued dryness, it was 30% more difficult than the conditions that prevailed during the Carmel fire. Along with all the government ministers here, I salute all those who took part in dealing with this crisis, in extinguishing the fires, and in guarding life and property. We have built an impressive ability to fight fires on the ground and from the air and it proved itself. I do not want to imagine what might have happened if we hadn’t built this ability.

I would like to thank the many governments who sent assistance in the form of firefighting aircraft, pilots and firefighters and I would like to thank the personnel at the Foreign Ministry and the National Security Council and especially you, Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Zeev Tzuk-Tam who supervised very impressive international coordination. It is not simple to bring here so many elements, pilots, planes and materials from so many countries.

Against the mighty forces of nature, countries worked together and the principle that has guided me and the government was – better over-ability than the risk of under-ability.

During the events, I personally visited several centers of the fires and I already instructed that a team be established to learn lessons so that we will be even better prepared in the future. I am initiating the establishment of a multi-national force that will be coordinated not just for action in time of disaster, but also to acquire planes and allocate the acquisition of various types of planes so that we might thereby achieve multi-national effectiveness, and not just national effectiveness, in dealing with gigantic fires. I have spoken about this with several leaders from the region. I must say that they have shown great interest in the idea and we will advance it.”

President Rivlin meets firefighters    Photo:  Mark Neiman

President Rivlin meets firefighters Photo: Mark Neiman

President Reuven Rivlin this morning (Sunday) visited the community of Nataf in the Jerusalem hills which was badly damaged by the fires in the last few days. The President met with the firefighters who had worked tirelessly to battle the blaze in the area, and praised them for their tremendous efforts to save lives and protect properties from the flames. “I wish to thank personally all the firefighters, the police, and the security services, in the name of all the Israeli people,” said the President, and added, “You worked fearlessly and tirelessly, and I am deeply proud of you. Well done.”

The President met with the Cohen family, Yaakov and Tamar, whose home was burned down in the blaze, and heard from them about the horrifying moments as they were together with their four children in their home as the fire struck, and they were forced to evacuate to safety. They showed the President the remains of the house and said they had no doubt they would rebuild their home there. The President stood in the wreckage and said, “We have seen here a family who saved themselves, who went in an instant from being safe and sound to facing a sea of flames which could never have been foreseen.”

President Rivlin stressed, “We must thank and praise all those who stood on the front-line; the firefighters, police, and home front personnel, and together we praise all the professionals who proved their ability and dedication. We must also praise all the civilian organizations who heeded the instructions and understood what needed to be done.”

The President added, “Terror is terror wherever it is found”. He added, “At the same time, we have to understand that we all live in this land and even when there are individuals who out of an intention to fight another people, or against another religion, people who are extremists and do not hesitate to do anything to fan the flames which have the ability to tear apart, and break down the dam so that we will not be able to live here together, these people must be dealt with, with the full force of the law. Cooperation and partnership – perhaps most important in all that happens to us – our interactions with our neighbors and friends in anything to do with firefighting – even in this house – perhaps point to the fact there is hope, because at the end of the day the threat endangers us all, all who seek to live peacefully in this land. Because we have no other land.”

Later the President went on to meet with the Israeli pilots, and pilots from all over the world who helped fight the fires. He said, “I have come from Nataf, a community damaged by the flames, whose residents are full of thanks for you, because thanks to you none were injured. In the name of all the Israeli people, I thank each of you from the bottom of my heart for you bravery and generosity, and send my thanks also to your leaders who answered our call for help without hesitation,” he said to pilots from Greece, Cyprus, Croatia, Italy, Turkey, Russia, USA, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, France, Spain, and Romania.

He added, “You showed us what real and honest friendship is. Until now you were heroes in your own countries now your heroes in our country, our home as well. Each and every one of you left behind a family, home and a country and boarded a plane at a short notice to extend your hand in assistance to save lives, and I can assure you that indeed you save lives. I don’t know if you have been to Israel before yet you demonstrated that your love of humanity has no borders. And of course I would like to invite you to visit here, in our beautiful land, in regular days.”

And concluded, “To all our own air force, we thank you for your strength, and for your warm welcome to your colleagues from around the world, and for your ability to join forces for the sake of Israel and her people.”


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