PM Bennett visits Israel police and fire and rescue service forward command centre, Defense Minister tries to lease more planes to fight Jerusalem forest fires

August 17, 2021 by Gil Tanenbaum - TPS
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Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has visited the Israel Police and Fire and Rescue Service forward command centre, near the wildfire in the Jerusalem Hills.

Clouds of heavy smoke over the city of Jerusalem and the area around when a massive wildfire broke out outside of Jerusalem. Jerusalem, Aug 15 Photo by Shalev Shalom/TPS

In addition, The Defence Ministry has just announced that under the direction of Defense Minister Benny Gantz, the Ministry of Defense’s Purchasing Director (Director General) is working to immediately lease six aircraft to expand the firefighting effort from the air.

Together with Public Security Minister Omer Barlev, Bennett received updates in the field about the efforts to bring the fire under control, from Israel Police Inspector-General Koby Shabtai and Fire and Rescue Service Commissioner Dedi Simchi.

The Prime Minister thanked the firefighters and police officers for their expedited work in saving human lives.

The Prime Minister stated, “At this time, it seems that the efforts to bring the fire under control are moving in a positive direction but it must be said that it is not over until it is over.”

Bennet explained that strong winds spread the fire and that, while things may now seem okay, things could get worse again overnight. As such, he promised that authorities would “make a continuous effort throughout the night.”

The Prime Minister commended the firefighters, the Fire and Rescue Service, the Israel Police, the IDF forces, and all of the rescue forces, which worked in concert, under the leadership of the Public Security Minister, and who, “very quickly and efficiently rescued hundreds of residents from their homes, something that really saved lives.”

As of now, the fire is moving slowly eastward and, therefore, could pose a threat to the area of Ein Kerem and Aminadav and communities on the western side of Jerusalem.

The firefighting planes do not operate at night and will only resume their activities at 06:00 Tuesday morning. It is hoped that the firefighters will be able to end the threat during the early morning hours of tomorrow, Tuesday.

“Until then, I – first and foremost – call on all residents of the area to listen to the commands [of the authorities],” said Bennett. “Your good discipline and good conduct in following the commands of the emergency forces have really saved lives.”

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