Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says his government is committed to helping all those whose property was destroyed by last week’s fires to rebuild their homes and their lives.
He promised during a special Cabinet meeting in Haifa Sunday to “brutally shorten” the bureaucracy and quickly extend a helping hand.
Before the meeting, he met with a couple whose 20-year-old restaurant in the hills outside Jerusalem is now a huge pile of ashes.
“The fire there and in other places burned property, it burned objects replete with memories. It even burned animals in some places. But to our joy, this time we were well-prepared and it did not burn lives.”
Police and firefighters say nearly all of the blazes that raged across parts of Israel and the West Bank for most of last week are out. Although there were no deaths, the fires sent more than 100 people to the hospital, mostly for smoke inhalation.
Netanyahu praised the “courage” of the Israeli firefighters and also thanked the Palestinian Authority for sending help. He also said he “appreciates” everyone, Jews and Arabs, who opened their homes to fire victims.
Authorities suspect as many as 40 of the fires were deliberately set. Several people are under arrest, but no other details on their identity or motives have been officially released.
Prime Minister Netanyahu said such crimes will not be tolerated.
“Whoever starts a fire, either by malice or negligence, whoever incites to arson, we will act against them with full force.”