Friday, December 3, 2010

Beit Oren, Nir Etzion Burned After Some Residents Forcibly Evacuated

Before the Fire:  Beit Oren National Forest
Before the Fire:  Nir Etzion

I know that many may say that the residents of Nir Etzion and Beit Oren should not have returned to their homes and farms against police orders and should not have had to been forcibly evacuated, but I’m sure the independent members of those towns also had very good reason to fight.

The government, by its own admission, has bungled this fire from the start, they don’t have the personnel, the money, or the equipment to fight it. There is a good chance that the people of Nir Etzion and Beit Oren would have been more resolute and more successful in fighting the fires in their community than the government.

In addition, those in Nir Etzion and Beit Oren have a severe mistrust of the government’s motives, as the government hasn’t been especially forthcoming with aid to religious Zionist communities and, frankly, may be less than willing to protect those communities.

It is so sad that, in combination with the hellishness of this fire (which I resolutely will not call a “natural disaster”--unless you think that arab terrorism is “natural”), the people of Israel must also deal with their inherit mistrust of Bibi, Peres, and their thuggish underlings.

Who is to say that the citizens of these burned-out communities won’t find themselves banned from their own property by the government and by arab squatters when they want to return?  Who is protecting these towns from looting and squatting?

After the fall of ash, comes the fallout of pain and suffering that always seems compounded by the actions of the Israeli government.



Nir Etzion in Flames, Severe Damage in Other Northern Areas
by Chana Ya'ar

A courteous electronic telephone menu still greets callers who dial the  number of the moshav hotel in the northern community of Nir Etzion. If one choose the extension for the switchboard, a polite message asks the caller to leave a message on the voice mail.

That's because the popular religious hotel, located slightly south of Haifa, may no longer exist. Certainly most of the structures in the community are "badly burned," according to Israel Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld.

The same devastation was seen in Kibbutz Beit Oren, Rosenfeld told Israel National News  Friday afternoon just prior to the start of the Sabbath. However, he added, "everyone has somewhere to be for tonight, and local authorities are coordinating their care."

Much of Nir Etzion, located atop Mount Carmel, went up in flames around  noon Friday when the raging inferno that ignited Thursday morning on the Carmel mountain reached the small but thriving resort community.

Police fought desperately with residents who had resolutely returned to  their homes against the orders of security personnel after being evacuated the night before.

The cooperative community was established in 1950 by the survivors of Kibbutz Kfar Etzion, which fell into the hands of Jordan during Israel's  1948 War of Independence.  Nir Etzion is home to some 80 member and resident households. The community owns a large food factory which provides thousands of meals to industrial factories and companies throughout the country. It also specializes in agriculture, and has a dairy farm and a poultry coop.

A similar tragic scene, involving a struggle between residents who didn't want to leave and police who insisted on taking them to safety, took place at Kibbutz Beit Oren. There, too, residents quietly stole back into their homes after having been evacuated on Thursday.

Police were equally persistent, returning to both communities and threatening to forcibly evacuate residents if necessary – and in some cases, it was.

Firefighters continued Friday afternoon to also battle flames in the area between the Druze villages of Ussefiya and Daliya, as well as the entrance to Ussefiya, the Na'aman Junction, and Chai Bar. The artists' village of Ein Hod, located close to Nir Etzion, was one of the first to  be consumed by the flames on Thursday.

The blaze in Kiryat Tivon was brought under control sometime after 1:00  p.m., according to Public Security Minister Yitzchak Aharonovitch. In addition, the flames that threatened Tirat HaCarmel and the Haifa suburb  of Denya have been brought under control as well.

Nevertheless, the fire continues to rage in much of the forest around the city. “We are not sending fire crews into the forest, because this is too dangerous,” explained Aharonovitch. “The focus is on planes. We have Israeli and foreign planes dousing the flames and we need more planes.”

Eight foreign planes, three helicopters, three fire trucks and some 150  foreign firefighters had arrived in Israel by Friday noon. Due to the strong winds the blaze spread rapidly, making it necessary to evacuate some 13,000 people from their homes.

According to the Jewish National Fund, more than 20,000 dunams of forest lands have been destroyed by the fire. Routes 2 and 4 were closed  locally for much of the day, effectively sealing off access to the north from the rest of the country. Route 2 was later reopened to traffic.

Rosenfeld said the official death toll was 41 confirmed dead, including  Israel Prison Service cadets, two police officers and a volunteer firefighter. Three others remain in critical condition at Rambam Medical  Center in Haifa, including the city's Police Chief, Deputy Commander Ahuva Tomer.

Hotline for affected families: 08-977-5717

Lev Echad Hotline for volunteers: 02-675-5150 for instructions, 02-675-5185
(NOTE: Police ask volunteers NOT to approach the fire zones under any circumstances.)

Hotline for immigrant residents of the north who need assistance: 1-255-081-010

1 comment:

  1. Having lived and worked in Beit Oren for 2 years back in the eighties this news struck me, hit me in the head with force. My thoughts are with all those residents of Beit Oren. We in Holland are with you in our thoughts.

    Bert Groeneveld


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