Throughout the morning, firefighting planes from around the world landed at Israeli Air Force bases.Commander of the IAF, Major General Ido Nehushtan, arrived to see first hand the work of the crews, saying that “air support is one of the most decisive factors in fighting fire”
Significant air support from Greece, Bulgaria, Turkey, and Cyprus has arrived to Israel, doubling the firefighting capabilities at the scene of the fire in Carmel. Commander of the Greek delegation, Major Jack Tesferbadis said that they felt a commitment to come to help Israel.
“We have a lot of experience and we are here to help Israel. As soon as we got the order, our crew gathered quickly and came – we will do the best job that we can.
Maj. Gen. Nechushtan said at the Ramat David air force base: “We, the State of Israel and the IDF, have helped other countries in times of need – such as earthquakes and fires – and I am very appreciative that other countries are now coming to help us in our time of need”.
Many foreign crews arrived straight to the IAF technical base and prepared quickly to leave for the site of the fire. Pilots from around the world, including a British crew based in Cyprus, said that despite their vast experience, they had never seen such a powerful fire. The pilots noted that it was difficult to maneuver the aircraft because the surface area and size of the fire. Petrus, a pilot in the Cyprian police special forces unit who rushed to Israel yesterday, said: “I’ve never seen a fire like this before. In the morning, we saw a maroon sky. Our pilots have flown in similar missions throughout the Middle East and we’ve never seen such a fire. We, the Cyprian crew, have the greatest advantage because we are used to and have trained in these conditions, including in this type of terrain and weather”. Petrus explained some of the methodology, including the need to fly in circles and for the planes to fly in front of the helicopters in order to prevent a collision.
Maj. Gen. Nehustan spoke with the pilots to better understand their capabilities. “We need all the help we can get. We have a British plane, four Greek aircraft, and two Turkish aircraft in Israel at this time. Managing the air space of the fire is complex – it’s a small area with many planes in the air. There are different languages. Air support is one of the most decisive factors in firefighting and I hope that the situation will turn to our favor. I am very grateful for, and it is certainly heartwarming to see, the devotion and commitment that other countries have shown to Israel”.