(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this morning (Friday, 25 November 2016), toured the site of the fire at Beit Meir, accompanied by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, Jerusalem District Border Police commander Itzik Sabin, Mate Yehuda Area Fire and Rescue Service Commander Effie Peretz and Beit Shemesh Fire and Rescue Service Commander Reuven Yitzhak. The Prime Minister met with firefighters who briefed him on their work in taking control of the fires.
Prime Minister Netanyahu told the firefighters: “The most important thing is to evacuate people, and also yourselves. Nobody needs to die here, nobody. This is before anything else. There are many other things but this takes precedence.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke with Arik Abulof, an officer with the aerial firefighting squadron, who told the Prime Minister: “What you have done here, the this squadron certainly constitutes a significant force in assisting the units on the ground. Without it, I figure that the forces, and I belong to them, would have had to spend many more hours, long days, in order to achieve control. The damage to property and life, the damage to life, would have been much worse. There is no doubt that these planes, they are doing the work in order to assist in blocking the flames and giving respite to the ground forces.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu said: “I am pleased that you are saying this. There was a clear decision to do this during the Carmel fire, and afterwards we decided to establish the squadron even though it was not included in any report, not in the State Comptroller’s report on the fire, nothing. Two words were lacking there: Firefighting planes. One cannot fight fire without firefighters like you. It is impossible. This is heroism; you stand in the line of fire. But there are no forest fires and fires on the ground, nowhere in the world, in which they are dealt with effectively without firefighting planes. And I am proud of the fact that today we have a large and good squadron.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu is presently touring the Hatzor Air Base where a majority of the firefighting planes that are going out to fight the fires are currently based.