US Ambassador to Israel visits joint firefighting team in Gaza periphery
Ten American firefighters arrived in Israel this week to help battle the blazes caused by incendiary kites and balloons launched from Gaza.
U.S. Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, visited Sderot's fire station Wednesday morning, where he met to thank the American firefighters and Israeli counterparts cooperating to extinguish the fires in Israel’s south.
"They demonstrated an amazing solidarity between the American people and the Israeli people," Friedman told i24NEWS in an exclusive interview.
"It's an act of true friendship and true love and I think the people here know that if the United States would need help, the Israelis would come to the United States to help. I don’t think there is a better way to demonstrate solidarity, love, and cooperation between the United States and Israel,” he lauded.
The Jewish Federations of North America sponsored the trip for the firefighters to participate through the Emergency Volunteers Project (EVP), an Israeli organization that helps coordinate first responders coming from North America to work with Israeli forces in times of crisis.
Another 50 American firefighters are on standby ready for deployment to Israel, American firefighter Aston Bright informed i24NEWS.
“It’s insane when people target and attack civilians. And the Israeli people are very tough and determined. We are here to augment the response,” the Florida firefigher said, adding that there have been roughly 1,000 fires over the last four months.
“Just yesterday, we had two very large fires near Gaza. One we had to call in the bulldozers. We called in the fireplanes. We also called in the fire helicopters. It was actually the first time I’ve ever worked with all three of those pieces of equipment at the same time on the same fire,” Bright told i24NEWS, adding that he was “quite impressed with the capability of the Israeli fire service.”
The fire department for Israel’s south said 19 fires broke out on Tuesday, attributing all to incendiary devices launched by Palestinians from the Hamas-run enclave.
The phenomenon of kites, balloons and event inflated condoms carrying flammable liquids or explosives began during the months-long ‘Great March of Return’ protests in Gaza.
No lives or homes have been damaged from the fires but they have devastated Israel’s natural lands.
Israel’s Fire and Rescue Commissioner Dedi Simhi also came to thank the firefighters and told both nations’ forces that it was a tremendous opportunity to share knowledge and learn from each other.
A town that has suffered much over the years from rocket attacks, from Gaza, from Hamas. More recently fields here are burning.
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