The Magnitude of Israel's Fires by The Numbers (21 photos)

 
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Over 630 fires have blazed through Israel since last Tuesday (November 22nd) 

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Many were smaller fires, but several were giant blazes which struck at the heart of residential areas. This NASA satellite image shows smoke billowing from Haifa in the North and in Jerusalem region, the areas hardest-hit by the fires.

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Around 100,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes 

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Haifa, "the capital of Israel's north" saw a huge fire spread through the wooded areas that surround many of its neighborhoods, forcing up to 75,000 people to evacuate their homes.

 

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Haifa's mayor called it the largest mass civilian mobilization in the country’s history.

 

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The presence of a forest fire in the middle of a highly-populated area resulted in the unusual use of firefighting aircraft in an urban area.

 

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Over 11 neighborhoods were evacuated, as well as the Technion University and two prisons. In 2010, a fire in the Carmel Forest near Haifa killed 40 prison guard cadets who were in the process of evacuating a prison. 

 

Over 600 houses damaged or destroyed, leaving thousands homeless 


Watch firefighters battle flames as they continue to consume houses. 

 

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 In Haifa alone, over 500 apartments in over 70 buildings were completely destroyed.

 

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 This is all that was left of a home in Halamish, a town in the center of Israel.

 

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Here, a firefighting plane works to extinguish flames, which burned down 10 houses and a popular local restaurant.

In a moving gesture, AirBNB waived their commission on all Israeli apartments, to allow more people to share their homes:

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32,124 acres of forest have been destroyed

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In Israel, every tree is precious. Mostly desert, just 7.6% of the land are defined as forests.

 

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Reforestation is not a word you hear every day, but between 1990 and 2005, Israel increased the expanse of its forests by 11%. To date, the Jewish National Fund has planted over 240 million trees in Israel.

 

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Experts estimate it could take 30 years to recover from the environmental damage. You Can Help Israel Recover! - Donate to the JNF

 

Israel's firefighters are battling flames 24 hours a day

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Israel's firefighting crews were stretched to the max. Working in 24-hour shifts, they battled some fires for days at a time.

Here are some examples of how many people it's taken to put out the fires:

  • Haifa - 350 firefighters and 115 firefighting vehicles
  • Halamish - 16 firefighting teams
  • Dolev - 68 firefighters
  • Beit Meir - 25 firefighting teams

In appreciation of their sacrifice, the band Air Supply gave away 200 tickets to firemen's wives.

 

Over a dozen countries have sent assistance 

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US, Egypt, Jordan, Cyprus, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Russia, Greece, Italy, Croatia, France, Spain, Canada and the Palestinian Authority have all responded to Israel's call for assistance, sending firefighters, aircraft, and fire trucks to help battle the flames.

 

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American firefighters with their Israeli counterparts.

 
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Here, a Croatian firefighting plane fills with water before returning to another mission. It can be seen in other pictures fighting fires throughout Israel.

In addition, the world’s largest firefighting aircraft landed in Israel on Friday. The Supertanker is a Boeing 747 which can carry almost 20,000 gallons of water or flame retardant.

 Here it can be seen performing a mission over Israel's skies:

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Multiple fires have been attributed to arson 

A large percentage of the fires were caused by nature or negligence; the current dry, windy conditions in Israel create an environment that is particularly prone to fires.

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However, police have arrested over 30 people who they suspect of arson. Some have been caught with incriminating evidence, others have been caught on camera, like in the image above.

 

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Other fires have been attributed to arson because of incriminating evidence, like these bottles of gasoline, but the perpetrators have not been caught.

As a result, another uncommon word now being featured in the news is Pyroterrorism.

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A graphic shared by Hamas, celebrating the fires throughout Israel.

The fire in Zichron Ya'akov - a city a few kilometers south of Haifa -which destroyed 30 homes, was attributed to arson. So was the fire near Jerusalem in Beit Meir and Shoresh, which forced over 400 people to evacuate. Police say suspects were seen fleeing the scene.

Haifa's fire has been reported as arson as well, with the fire apparently beginning at five different spots simultaneously.


At this point, most of the fires have been extinguished, but Israel remains at risk until Tuesday, when it is projected to rain. What is certain is that Israel has responded with resilience, an outpouring of love from its citizens, and strong support from the international community.

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What were your thoughts as you saw the images of Israel burning?

Tags: society, terrorism, fires, haifa