Netanyahu honours foreign help for Carmel fire crisis

By Jennifer Lipman, December 7, 2010

Israel has honoured 250 foreign fire fighters and rescue workers from Britain and around the world who worked to control the devastating four-day-long forest fire in the Carmel mountains region.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave the volunteers honorary awards on behalf of the state of Israel at a ceremony in Jerusalem this morning.

He said that for years Israel had sent humanitarian assistance abroad, in response to disasters such as the Haiti earthquake or a fuel tanker explosion in Congo, and praised the international community for doing the same for Israel.

He said: "Israel's hope is that if we believe we can fight mother nature, we can overcome hostility, unite and establish peace among all nations."

Amidst hope over the fact Turkey was one of the countries to offer help last week despite the deterioration of relations after the flotilla clash in May, Mr Netanyahu said the response to the fire "should pose as a model for additional collaborations in the region”.

President Shimon Peres thanked those who were “brave” enough to come and help.

Forty-two people died in the disaster, which police believe may be due to the negligence of a teenager discarding a coal used to smoke a nargilah pipe.

Last updated: 3:23pm, December 7 2010