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Brussels, 03 December 2010

EU supports Israel in combating worst forest fires in decades

The European Commission has activated the EU Civil Protection Mechanism last night in response to Israel’s request for assistance to fight the fires raging in the northern part of the country.

"Alongside my condolences to the victims' families and friends, I want to express solidarity with the people affected by the fire, and to reiterate to the authorities of Israel that Europe stands ready to work closely with them in combating this catastrophe", said the President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso.

We are moving quickly to help Israel tackle this natural disaster, whose scale is unprecedented in the country’s history. Israel can count on Europe's immediate support. The Monitoring and Information Centre is coordinating the European assistance in the crucial hours and days ahead,” said Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response.

Israel has suffered large-scale forest fires in the past days. Last night, 02 December, it contacted the EU Monitoring and Information Centre with a specific request for fire-delaying and extinguishing materials, such as anti-fire powder. In response, the MIC was activated and has spread Israel’s request to the 31 members of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. Within hours, the Participating States offered the requested material.

In addition, numerous Participating States offered fire fighting aircrafts, namely Greece, Spain, France, Cyprus, Spain, Croatia. Four Greek planes have already arrived on site this morning. 92 fire fighters from Bulgaria are on their way to Israel.

The MIC has also been informed about assistance provided by other countries including Russia, Egypt and Jordan.

For more information on the humanitarian aid of the European Commission

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