Skip to comments.Carmel Mountains Inferno Update
Posted on 12/04/2010 7:35:20 PM PST by Ari Bussel
The Prime Ministers Update
Following are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's remarks earlier this evening (Saturday), 4.12.10, at the Haifa University forward command center:
"As soon as the fire broke out, I set two goals: First, saving lives, and second, extinguishing the fire, which effectively means aerial efforts with international cooperation. The work on the ground is the responsibility of Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, Israel Police Inspector-General Dudi Cohen and the Fire and Rescue Service, with the assistance of the IDF, MDA and all the bodies that are represented here. First of all, I would like to say that this goal has been achieved. After the tragedy that has befallen us, the loss of 41 people, we grieve along with the families.
That we have no suffered additional losses is thanks to the police personnel, the firefighters, the soldiers, the pilots, the MDA personnel, the local council workers, the many volunteers and the citizens of Israel. The Israeli people know how to come together. The State of Israel knows how to come together and unite in moments of crisis and this is happening here very well.
I would like to thank all of those who are here from the various forces: Fire and Rescue Service Commissioner Shimon Romach and MDA with you, IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Gaby Ashkenazi and the Air Force, Israel Police Insp.-Gen. Cohen and all of the Government offices and the two ministers here, Social Welfare and Social Services Minister Yitzhak Herzog and Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai, in addition to Minister Aharonovitch. There has been exceptional and impressive cooperation that has led to important results, the first of which is saving lives. At my request, there were evacuations and now people are returning to their homes, as the situation permits.
The second goal is aerial extinguishing. I would like to explain that we have a unique event here. It does have parallels around the world, in the giant brushfires that have occurred in Russia, the US, Greece and in several other countries. These are massive brushfires that cannot be compared to acts of arson or other fires. In a massive brushfire, first of all, there is a need to employ unique forces. This is not a routine event and it requires aerial activity. Ground forces are insufficient and most cannot stop even the start. Even the start, that oft-discussed cup of water, to put out the fire, in the event of a massive brushfire, it is almost always brought by plane or helicopter.
This is to say that there is a need for aerial firefighting in order to deal with such fires. There is also a need to do this in cooperation because there is no country that I know of, and I spoke with both US President Barack Obama and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and with our friend, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, who came to our aid immediately. All of these countries, and others, which have experienced these fires, were helped by other countries. This is no shame in this; it is part of our existence in the global village. We live in a global village; we both receive and extend assistance. Israel has extended assistance over the years in rescuing victims in other countries and Israel is now receiving assistance, very extensive assistance.
I have spoken with approximately 30 heads of state and government, presidents and prime ministers, in the past three days. I must tell you that their mobilization, the warmth of their remarks, their willingness, the desire to help immediately, sometimes even before we have managed to request it, must warm the heart of all Israelis. There is very great solidarity here and there is very great cooperation, of course in keeping with their abilities. People are bringing what they have. Governments are bringing what they have, as per the distances which are often considerable; but not even this is deterring people.
Over the past day, this effort has led to our being equipped with an aerial force of ten planes four from Greece, two from Turkey, one from Cyprus and one from Russia. These aircraft have started to operate. They are in addition to our planes, you saw them, the sprayers that are doing exceptional work, but of course we need the massive force and this has happened. We have also received three British planes, one from Cyprus. These are the forces that we have succeeded in bringing immediately from not very far away. In the coming day, I expect that we will double this force with firefighting aircraft from France and Spain. There have been weather and other problems but as you see, we are overcoming them, and they will be welcomed. Also, the force of helicopters is being doubled and even tripled.
We are also bringing a very significant plane. You have seen the Ilyushin that has been sent from Russia. It can carry approximately 40,000 liters. We are also bringing a Boeing Supertanker. It is the largest plane of its kind in the world and we have been told that it can also operate at night, which no other plane can do. This plane was brought to our attention by Israel Aerospace Industries Chairman Yair Shamir. He contacted my Military Secretary, Maj.-Gen. Yohanan Loaker, and told him that heard about it. Maj.-Gen. Loaker immediately checked the Internet and within 15 minutes, contacted the company. He asked me, 'Can we approve renting this Arizona-based company?' I approved it on the spot. He asked me, 'Where will the budgeting come from?' I replied, 'We will find it.' There was a contract within an hour.
This plane is en route. They have a commitment to arrive within 36 hours. They will come here anywhere in the world. They will arrive here tonight. At 01:00, this plane will be here. Its capacity is 76-80,000 liters, almost double that of the Ilyushin. It may have the exclusive ability to operate at night. Because what is happening here, and I just saw it on the flight here, is that during the day, the pilots and firefighters do exceptional work but night falls and the wind-fanned embers return to life, so the ability to operate at night is very significant.
I have asked from these countries, from US President Obama, Russian Prime Minister Putin and from others, including Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, I asked to learn from their experience. They have experience in aerial firefighting because the issue of how to use the aerial force is no less important than assembling the force. Of course, there is nothing to do without the force but when one has it, it must be put to optimal use, because we need to ensure that we can extinguish this fire in the daytime and also at night, if need be.
I just spoke with the Russian Deputy Civil Defense, Emergency and Disaster Relief Minister. They have a modus operandi but nobody has yet developed one for this plane which has only recently come on the market; therefore, we will consider this. We are making many breakthroughs here.
I also intend to acquire for the State of Israel an aerial force, which we need in the era of global warming, in the era of brushfires. We need, of course, this different ability which will completely alter our ability to deal with massive brushfires.
Maj.-Gen. Loaker is contact with the IDF and the Air Force, in order to submit, this week, a proposal for building such a force. We will budget for it. These are the two main actions that we must deal with saving lives and extinguishing the fire. I think that we are progressing very well.
I asked when to stop bringing the planes because we are bringing very many. Today, I spoke with Swiss President Doris Leuthard and she is sending three helicopters. I spoke with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and he is sending a plane and a helicopter. I spoke with Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and he is sending a helicopter. I spoke with Croatian Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor and she is sending a plane. I spoke with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte yesterday and he is sending three helicopters. I spoke with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and he is sending another two planes, for a total of six. I asked GOC Air Force Maj.-Gen. Ido Nehushtan yesterday and I asked IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Ashkenazi today, do you want to stop? They said that they would tell me when. So as long as they can use these aircraft, we want safety margins. We want to ensure that we can stop this fire because otherwise it will simply advance, endangering people, and destroying these beautiful Carmel forests.
We are now left with a third very major mission and we will hold tomorrow's Cabinet meeting in Tirat Hacarmel not just as an act of solidarity but also in order to make it clear that we will rehabilitate not only the people who have been injured but the homes and the forests that have been damaged as well. We will do this in cooperation with the local mayors, via the carious ministries, with the ministers who are here and with others.
Tomorrow, we will also brief the Cabinet and make a decision to start a plan to rehabilitate the Carmel forests. Something very precious has been hurt here. We can rehabilitate it, with the assistance of other bodies such as the JNF and overseas elements, who have already expressed their willingness to volunteer among the Jewish People and among non-Jews.
I think that there is a very serious crisis here but from the bitter shall proceed something important, I do not want to say sweet, because very harsh things and personal tragedies have occurred but one thing is becoming clear" The Israeli people are standing together and many other peoples are standing together with us. This is not a small thing. This must certainly be a point of light during Chanukah.
Perhaps I will add one other point because I see that somebody has sent me a message. In the framework of the countries that are aiding us, there have been very interesting things. First, the fact that during Chanukah, Turkish pilots speaking Turkish, and pilots speaking Greek are flying together with Israeli pilots and this is important. This will certainly have positive repercussions from Israel's point-of-view.
But we have also witnessed displays of admiration and assistance from Egypt, from Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, from Jordanian King Abdullah, and from Palestinian Authority Chairman Abu Mazen, who volunteered to send three firefighters. I think that these things are very important. I had a very good and warm talk with him. I expressed appreciation both for this step and for his solidarity in conveying his condolences, as others have also done, and I told him that we are in the same neighborhood. The fire is once here and once there. We are, in effect, creating a regional network, after we purchase the planes, the planes will join a regional network that I believe we can establish here for the benefit of all of our peoples."
Summary of IDF Activity in the Carmel Disaster Area
Over the weekend Israel Defense Forces continued assisting the rescue and security forces with firefighting efforts in the Carmel disaster area.
Two hundred IDF Home Front Command reservist firefighters teamed up with the rescue and security forces in the attempts to contain the fire.
Reserve officers from the liaison unit enlisted to facilitate cooperation and coordinate between the forces and the residents in the disaster area.
Firefighter delegations from Bulgaria and Greece teamed up with the Israeli emergency forces operating in the disaster area. The IDF Home Front Command coordinated the integration of the various teams and took care of the foreign firefighters housing and accommodation.
Hundreds of IDF soldiers helped evacuate effected communities and special population assistance centers, as well as taking on various search and policing assignments.
Dozens of medical personnel including paramedics and doctors are providing medical aid and identifying casualties of the fire.
Extensive aerial firefighting activity was coordinated with the emergency rescue teams on the ground. The Israeli Air Force has been coordinating all aerial teams operating in order to contain the fire as well as operating 2-4 observational aircrafts to direct ground forces fighting the fire. In addition the IAF has been coordinating the arrival and incorporation of all foreign firefighting aerial assistance.
As of Saturday evening, December 4, 3 firefighting helicopters, 12 firefighting planes and 6 transport helicopters from Greece, Bulgaria, Cypress, Britain, Turkey, Russia, France, Italy and Switzerland had arrived in Israel.
The head of the IDF Personnel Branch, Maj. Gen. Avi Zamir, called up 200 reserve officers from the casualty assistance department to assist the Israel Prison Service. Together they have been notifying the families of casualties who died when a Prison Service bus caught on fire on Thursday, 2 December. All the casualties will be buried with full honors in military ceremonies.
The C4I branch is supplying full coverage of telecommunication systems to the IDF forces, emergency services, Israel Fire and Rescue Services and the Israel police operating in the disaster zone. In addition, the C4I forces are supporting VC, aerial video and IAF information systems for all rescue and firefighting operations.
IAF helicopters and airplanes, thousands of soldiers, hundreds of vehicles, dozens of engineering machines and military firefighter vehicles have been operating on site since Thursday in order to assist in the rescue efforts.
The heads of the Education and Youth Corps were instructed to work with the Jewish National Fund (JNF) to coordinate IDF participation for forest recovery activities in the Carmel area, which will begin as soon as the fires have been fully contained.
The series Postcards from AmericaPostcards from Israel by Ari Bussel and Norma Zager is a compilation of articles capturing the essence of life in America and Israel during the first two decades of the 21st Century.
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First Published December 4, 2010
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a true man of integrity and honor. He has the best interest of his people at heart.
PS! Meant to add that I am praying for them as they are suffering through this bad fire.
I am disappointed that the USA, which has extensive experience in this type of fire-fighting, plus massive military forces in the region, didn’t contribute more.
Maybe it is on the way, but somehow the USA is largely missing from this list (and I think if Reagan were still in office—even if Nixon were still in office!—the USA wouldn’t be missing...)
Thank you for this post.
The U.S. is sending experts and fire retardant. European and Mediterranean countries are sending aircraft, which would seem to be more cost effective than sending ours, IMHO. This is only what I’ve been able to find so far.
We sent them retardant and tech help on the day the requested it. The 747 is also from the U.S. Most of our aerial assets don’t have the range to get there. Our type one incident command teams would have been a considerable aid, but apparently the Israelis want to manage the fight themselves.
“I am disappointed that the USA, which has extensive experience in this type of fire-fighting, plus massive military forces in the region, didnt contribute more.”
“Ben Johnston from Evergreen International Airlines told Wildfire Today this afternoon that their 747 Supertanker is being deployed to help fight the wildfires in Israel.”
“That we have no suffered additional losses is thanks to the police personnel, the firefighters, the soldiers, the pilots, the MDA personnel, the local council workers, the many volunteers and the citizens of Israel.”
Mostly it’s due to the fact that they’ve learned not to get up-slope of a wind driven fire.
This thing’s about 15,000 acres. Just for comparison, the Station Fire in Los Angeles was over 160,000.
From the cited comments, it appears a shortage of tactical knowledge is going hand in hand with a flare for drama.
There is NO doubt in my mind that Obama has no intention of accomodating Israel!!
We have some multi-function C130’s that would have the range to get there. There’s a privately owned DC10 that could also go, and that 747 they’re talking about is from the U.S. but, as you said, the closer assets make more sense. They’re going to have a real challenge avoiding aerial conflicts with the 747. It’s faster than everything else in the air. Turnaround time on it is pretty extensive, too. Most it’ll be useful to pre-treat broad areas.
Ah... good to see the NIMO’s going. Guess they’ve finally decided to call the experts.
From what I got out of the article, it looks they will primarily be using the 747 to rework areas where the fire had just recently been extinguished so that it does not flare back up during the night hours.
I haven’t seen it used at night here, so it’ll be interesting to see if they try that. From their description, it appears they’re of the mistaken opinion that you can extinguish these things from the air. You fight them on the ground from the flanks. Air resources are helpful, but mostly you have to get a trail around them.
You can get the effect they’re describing if you get high winds at night, but local weather doesn’t show any, so it’s probably just a rekindle from having done an inadequate suppression job on the ground due to personnel shortages. The US is sending three ground crews over for probably just that reason. I’ll bet that Bulgarian ground crew’s pretty active too.
Man, I don’t envy the communications officer on this thing. It’s tough enough in the US with different departments on different frequencies, imagine twenty different countries. The problem’ll be mitigated for air resources, since the frequencies are in use worldwide and English is the standard language.
For those interested, here’s a pretty good little primer on firefighting aircraft, including the 747 and c-130’s.
12 hours later they announced complete control. Like I said, more drama than reality.
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