Update on the fires in Israel’s Central Region

Friday, May 24, 2019 10:30 AM

Over 1,000 acres of forest in Israel's central region go up in flames.

KKL-JNF estimates that as of now (Friday, May 24, 10:30), about 2,500 acres in the Ben Shemen region, including 600 – 750 acres of Ben Shemen Forests, went up in flames. In the Tzora and Eshtaol regions, about 1,250 acres burned down, including about 375 acres in the Eshtaol and Tzorah-Hanasi forests.

KKL-JNF employees will be working in shifts in all its parks and forests, until the fires are under control and the forests and parks are no longer in danger. KKL-JNF staff and foresters have been busy over the past few hours preparing firebreaks to surround and isolate the fires, to prevent their spreading to additional green spaces.
KKL-JNF’s staff and forester teams, who worked very hard up to the Lag BaOmer festival to prevent people from lighting bonfires in its parks and forests, did not suspect that the festival would come to this.

Regarding the Ben Shemen Forest fires, KKL-JNF Coastal Plain Regional Director Gilad Mastai said, “The damage is tremendous, not only to the forest, but also to the animals. This is a whole fabric of life. Large expanses of the forest, the green lung of the Dan region, were burned.” Mastai added, “My forest teams are putting the fire out with their tears.”
Over the past three years, KKL-JNF Israel, with the support of JNF USA, raised about 11 million shekels to strengthen the firefighting network in Israel, and today, we see once again see the great importance of the firefighting network at times of emergency. Only recently, the firefighting network worked around the clock against the spate of kite and balloon arson from Gaza.

The Zaglambia Martyrs (K’doshei Zaglambia) Forest, which stands in the heart of Ben Shemen Forest, suffered extensive damage from the forest fire that raged there on Thursday, May 23, 2019. This forest is a memorial to the Jewish community of Zaglambia in southwest Poland, most of whom were murdered during the Holocaust. The forest was planted with the assistance of second-generation Polish Jews and KKL-JNF, in memory of the 100,000 Jews who were killed.
KKL-JNF Forester Eli Hen reported from the site: “Everything was burned here, absolutely everything, it’s heartbreaking. This is a place that we cared for and gave special attention to all year long. There’s huge damage here.”
KKL-JNF requests that the public not come to its parks and forests, due to extreme weather conditions, high temperatures and the winds.