|A foreign firefighting plane passes over the Mt Carmel fire. (photo from Israeli media)|
|Satellite Image of Fires Burning in Israel: Provided by NASA|
Greece, Bulgaria, Cypus, Jordan, England,Turkey, Egypt, England, Russia, France, Italy, Croatia, Rumania, Azerabaijan, Spain, USA and the Palestinain Authority. As of today (December 4th) that is the list of countries that have rushed specialized wildfire fighting equipment, firefighting aircraft and wildland firefighters to aid Israel as the worst natural disaster in their history continues to char the landscape and threaten lives. And you may wonder just what I am writing about? Israel? Forest Fires? Sadly, this unprecidented wildfire that has killed 41 people in and around the Carmel Forest (near the port city of Haifa) has barely been mentioned in our news. Today's paper has just 3 sentences buried on page 10. And if the scope of the fire that has created near apocalyptic scenes and horrifying images (many fatalities were young female prison guard trainees trapped in a bus by the inferno while racing to evacuate prisoners) as it spread with unprediticable speed over the parched landscape was not enough to make headline news, the international response should be. In a word: Impressive. Perhaps a better word would be: Gratifying.
Look closely at the list of those countries again. Many of the countries are not what you would call best buddies of Israel. But the world's firefighting community came to Israel's aid with more than condolences - they sent their best specialized equipment and manpower. And they breeched diplomatic standoffs. Most notably is the Muslim country of Turkey. Prime Minister Erdogan was quoted by the Israeli media as stating, "In the face of such a natural disaster, we needed to help as a humanitarian and Islamic requirement. Our planes will remain in your country until the fire is brought under control." And three Palestinian fire engines remain on the Israeli firelines. As nightfall darkened Israel on this Saturday, the orange glow from wildfire on hillsides near homes and livestock remains.
At sunrise Sunday the pilots from Europe and the Middle East on their flame retardant dumping mission will once again to take to the sky, among them this time a Boeing 747 Super Tanker from Arizona. The international armada of planes great and small is oddly reminiscent of the world wide pilot cooperation in the movie thriller Independence Day when we battled alien invaders. Incidents such as this wildfire should remind all of us it is one Earth we live on and we are one community. And natural disaster is sadly often the best common bond.
A Russian bomber-tanker drops water on flames advancing on Village of Nir Etzion
|A small firefighting plane from the international flotilla of aircraft scouts the scene. (Photo from Israeli media)|