Israel news

Deaths mourned as Carmel forest fire brought under control

By Jennifer Lipman, December 6, 2010

More than 17,000 people have been allowed back to their homes in the north of Israel after firefighters said that the worst of the blaze in the Carmel mountains region had been brought under control.

The fire, which investigators have traced back to two teenage boys now being held by police, has devastated 5,000 hectares of forest.

Forty-two people died as a result of the fire including the head of the Haifa police department and a 16-year-old volunteer firefighter who was killed during the attempt to rescue prison-guards trapped on a burning bus.


Israel's Idan Raichel to perform at Nobel ceremony

By Jennifer Lipman, December 3, 2010

Fresh from a tour of UK universities Israeli music star Idan Raichel has been asked to perform at this year’s Nobel Peace Prize ceremony.

The singer, who has enjoyed global success and sings in Arabic, Amharic, Zulu and Hindi as well as Hebrew, will take to the stage with American artist India Arie at the event in Oslo on December 10.

The pair are currently working together on an album.


Frustration at Israeli government as Carmel forest burns

By Jennifer Lipman, December 3, 2010

Questions are being raised over the way in which Israel deals with disasters as a devastating forest fire blazes across the Carmel mountains region for a second day.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu admitted that the country did not have sufficient equipment to tackle the disaster as reports emerged of another person killed in the fire.

This would bring the total casualties to 41 after a bus carrying prison guards caught fire on Thursday afternoon, killing 40 passengers.


British teens 'out of harm's way' from Carmel forest fire

December 3, 2010

British teenagers on gap year programmes in Israel have witnessed first-hand the worst forest fire in the country’s history.

Groups from several British youth movements including FZY, Habonim and Noam were in the town of Shlomi in the north of Israel for a seminar when the fire broke out on Thursday afternoon.

Natie Shevel, the UJIA’s regional director for Israel, reassured that all 160 British participants were safe.

He said: “None of them has been affected and they are all well out of harm's way.”


Carmel forest fire: Israeli charities appeal for international support

By Jennifer Lipman, December 3, 2010

Israeli charities and aid organisations are on high alert as firefighters attempt to bring a devastating forest fire in the Carmel mountain regions near Haifa under control before Shabbat.

The Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) and the Jewish National Fund (JNF) are amongst the organisations that have launched emergency appeals for support from the international community in the wake of the disaster.


Carmel fire evacuee: 'the whole sky was red'

By Robyn Rosen, December 3, 2010

Thirteen-year-old Einav King was evacuated from her home in Nir Etzion along with her parents, three siblings and dog, to stay with her British grandmother, Gloria King, from Sunderland, in Hofit.

“When I came back from school in Haifa, the whole sky was red,” Einav said. “It was filled with dust and smoke. At home, everything was covered in smoke. I came out the house and saw the flames about five kilometres away.


Carmel fire deaths like scenes from Holocaust

By Jennifer Lipman, December 3, 2010

Rescue workers at the site of Israel’s worst ever forest fire have described “chilling” scenes after 40 prison guards burned to death in a crash in the Carmel mountain region.

The blaze in northern Israel, which has already wrecked thousands of acres of vegetation and caused a mass evacuation of universities and homes in the area, has not yet been brought under control.

Abraham Danziger, a team leader for ZAKA, Israel’s volunteer rescue service, said: “The terrible smell of the charred bodies which is hanging in the air will remain with me for a long time.


Britain sends RAF helicopters to help Israel battle Carmel fire

By Jennifer Lipman, December 3, 2010

Britain has sent two RAF helicopters to aid Israeli firefighters attempting to control a forest fire that has spread across parts of northern Israel.

The helicopters, which are already on the ground in Israel, are equipped with large buckets to take water from the sea and spread it over the affected area. They have already made two flights and are about to set off on a third.


Forest fire still blazing through Israel's Carmel mountains

By Jennifer Lipman, December 3, 2010

Firefighters are battling to control what experts have described as the worst forest fire in Israeli history as a devastating inferno rages through the country’s Carmel mountains region for a second day.

The fire, which has already destroyed an estimated 5,000 acres of forest and bush land in northern Israel, saw its first casualties yesterday afternoon when a bus sent to help evacuate a nearby prison caught fire, killing up to 40 Israeli prison guards.


Sacked MK vows to run new party

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 2, 2010

Rabbi Chaim Amsellem, the Knesset member banished last week by his party Shas for his "heretical" views, is now threatening to form a new party for "traditional" Sephardi voters.

Rabbi Amsellem, a second-term MK, has repeatedly angered conservative Charedi rabbis and politicians with his over-liberal positions on religious and social issues.