JNF USA Contributes $2M to Israel's Firefighting and Rescue Services

Tuesday, January 10, 2017 10:51 AM

Six weeks after the massive November fires in Israel, JNF USA CEO Russell Robinson delivers a $2,000,000 check to the Israel Fire and Rescue Authority.


The ceremony took place at the Israel Fire and Rescue Authority headquarters in Rishon LeZion in the presence of JNF USA CEO Russell Robinson, Acting Israel Fire and Rescue Authority Commissioner Shimon Ben Ner and Acting Executive Director of KKL-JNF Resources, Development and PR Division Moshe Perl.

Russell Robinson presented Ben Ner with an outsized check of $2,000,000.

Robinson said that this check would be the first of a series of contributions, to fund projects to upgrade Israel’s firefighting services in outlying areas.

Following the devastating fires that ravaged Israel in late November of last year, JNF USA initiated an emergency fundraising drive to assist Israel with recovery from the damage. Robinson said that it did not take much to convince donors as the facts spoke loudly for themselves.

“We collected $6,000,000 within a couple of weeks which is earmarked for intensive reforestation of areas destroyed by the fires, and for bolstering the county’s firefighting facilities."

During the six-day blaze approximately 8,300 dunams (2,050 acres) of planted forest went up in flames. Tens of thousands of people were evacuated from their homes and hundreds of houses were burned, some down to the ground.

Over 300 KKL-JNF foresters and firefighters worked around the clock alongside teams from the Israel Fire and Rescue Authority, to douse the flames in over 15 thousand dunams (3,700 acres) of land swept by wildfires. They would rush to wherever they were needed most at any particular point in time, often from one side of the country to another.
Upon accepting the check from JNF USA on behalf of the Israel Fire and Rescue Authority, Shimon Ben Ner said:

“Today a true partnership has been created between Israel Fire and Rescue Authority and JNF USA, to develop the Negev and the Galilee. In a pre-ceremony meeting with Russell and other JNF-USA officials, we presented our requirements to build new fire stations in outlying and dangerous areas. They listened to us attentively and gave the ‘green light’ to proceed with further planning.”

Russell Robinson said that JNF USA is doubly pleased to take part in the upgrade of fire services in the far north and south of Israel.  

“We are currently trying to move 500,000 people to the Negev. The more services those areas can provide, such as jobs, schools and hospitals, the more attractive they are for residents of the center of the country. People are interested in seeing a fire station in their town and not just random fire trucks parked in someone’s backyard. And we would also like to see fire stations in remote Bedouin towns and villages.”
Moshe Perl, Acting Executive Director of the KKL-JNF Resources, Development and PR Division, said:
"I want to thank Russell and JNF America, the donors, for understanding the needs of this country and for the partnership. It is a real pleasure to work together for the benefit of the citizens of this country."

Robinson concluded the ceremony with a story he heard from a foreign firefighter who arrived in Israel as part of his country’s effort to help Israel douse the flames.

“The visiting firefighter said: "I am amazed at what I saw here. In my country we fight fires by creating a firebreak around the blaze and then we let the fire die down. We will only intervene if the blaze jumps over the barrier. Here in Israel the firefighters create a firebreak and then, with great effort and sometimes personal risk, they close in on the fire and put it out. That shows to me just how important every centimeter of land in Israel is, to each firefighter. I have never before met people with such love for their land”."