Fire-Ravaged Israel Will Rebuild

January 1, 2017
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Emergency Fire Assistance Update

Blankets provided to children’s village in Haifa

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Photo: Avi Ben Zaken/ Wikipedia

Friday, 02 December 2016 | Last week, fire ravaged Ahuzat Yeladim, a children’s village in Haifa. Bridges for Peace responded with a truckload of blankets to replace those completely ruined by smoke in anticipation of the children’s return from evacuation. Here, nearly 100 children, ages 8 to 18 who have psychological issues because of abuse, neglect and/or abandonment live in community with care givers who are committed to providing a healing environment. Their pet therapy area including the animals who were loved and cared for by the children, and their community garden, were completely destroyed.

Most of the buildings suffered extensive fire damage, and the rest were engulfed in smoke. They have literally lost everything. The children, who are in need of constant loving attention and a secure environment, are desperate to return to Ahuzat Yeladim, the only safe home most of them have ever known, but the needs for rebuilding and restoring the village are overwhelming. Bridges for Peace will continue to provide the children of Ahuzat Yeladim and other fire victims across the country with all the help we can give. Please give generously.

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November 30, 2016 
More than 560 homes were destroyed, 130,000 dunams (32,124 acres) of natural forests, brush lands and protected parklands decimated and over150 people wounded in fires that swept the country in late November. Many of the more than 200 fires were set in what is called arson terrorism, although dry conditions and high winds exacerbated the problem. Sixty thousand people were evacuated from their homes in Haifa alone; while entire communities in Judea were evacuated.

Dozens of neighborhoods have been destroyed, with schools, businesses, homes and synagogues left in shambles. Throughout the country, absorption centers were established to provide emergency care for those who have been left homeless, many by what Prime Minister Netanyahu is calling a new form of terrorism.

As I write, most of the fires have been extinguished, but some fires are still burning, and the risk remains while the current dry, windy weather continues. We are praying for rain!

 

“Don’t take anything, run!”

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Photo: Irena Esh/ Bridges for Peace

Ira, who works in our Karmiel Assistance Center, lives in Haifa. She told of watching from her apartment windows as fires burned in adjacent neighborhoods; her daughter’s school being closed and of heavy smoke enveloping the city. Somehow she missed the evacuation order for her neighborhood. Suddenly the police were urging evacuation as they went from building to building rounding up all the people who hadn’t already fled. “The fire could be here in seconds, hurry, don’t take anything, run!” They grabbed important papers and left everything else behind.

As they drove out of their neighborhood she realized that the fires on the side she couldn’t see from her windows were very close—cars were totally incinerated—the streets looked like a war zone. Ira and her family were fortunate; their home was not destroyed by fire. Others came back to find their lives in ashes. Can you imagine the devastation of losing all memories, photos, important documents, as well as all your clothing, household goods, and furniture? It is totally overwhelming.

The Rebuilding Begins

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Rama’s Kitchen destroyed in the village of Nataf
(Photo: Orenrosenfeld/ Wikipedia)

The city of Haifa was declared a disaster zone. Now the clearing, cleaning, repairing and rebuilding begins. Families are negotiating with insurance companies and the government. How long will it take before they get back to normal?

The effect on these families is devastating. The toll on the land is also heart-rending. Beautiful nature reserves have been destroyed. We are told it will take 30 years for the land to recover. Many animals that lived in these habitats were killed. The eco-system has been severely damaged.

During the fire, many Israelis rushed to help their neighbors. Palestinian fire fighters volunteered. Many countries sent fire fighting planes and personnel. Israel is a small country and will do as much as possible to attack the problem in all of its elements—including helping ravaged families to rebuild. But, the needs are great and Israel is looking to her friends for help.

As requests pour in for disaster assistance, Bridges for Peace is committed to helping in whatever way we can. We are helping individuals. We are planting trees. We are helping Israel in their time of need. The needs are huge and we desperately need your help. Even when the fires are out and the smoke has cleared, thousands of people will be without homes to which they can return. Please consider a generous gift to help us help Israel at a time when crisis is devastating the lives of thousands, many of them children and new immigrants. As Israelis look to Christian friends for help, we cannot let them down. We know that God is looking on them with love and compassion. And He is calling us to minister to them in their hour of need.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you” (Isa. 43:2).

We ask you to pray for the people of Israel who have lost everything. Pray for the rains to come. Pray for Prime Minister Netanyahu and his cabinet to put in place a proper response to terrorists who use fire as a weapon of mass destruction. And add to your prayer righteous action. Your generous gift will enable us to assist many as they rebuild their lives.

Blessings from Israel,

Rebecca J. Brimmer

International President and CEO