Fighting the Carmel blaze.
Fighting the Carmel blaze. Israel news photo: Flash 90

A month after the deadly wildfire on the Carmel mountain, Israel’s Cabinet approved on Sunday a NIS 15 million plan to rehabilitate and upgrade the infrastructures essential for the functioning and renewal of the communities in the region. The purpose of the plan is to help return life in these communities to normal and to repair and improve the public infrastructures upon which they rely.

The plan includes rehabilitation of structures that were burnt; repair of damage to sewage, water, electricity and communications infrastructures; paving access roads; repairing gardening infrastructure; building playgrounds; cutting trees and general clean-up; and dealing with highways and traffic arrangements.

Sunday’s approval comes on the heels of another approval last Sunday of rental and municipal assistance to those communities that were damaged in the Carmel wildfire.

According to last week’s decision, a family whose home was completely burnt will receive rental assistance for up to two years in order to allow it to build a new home.  Those families whose homes were partially burnt will receive rental assistance for up to one year.  Those families who lived in rented homes will receive assistance for three months in order to ease their reorganization in the interim period.

The inter-ministerial team also decided on NIS 80 million in municipal assistance for the local councils that were damaged in the fire, in order for them to equip themselves so as to prevent future fires by closing illegal dumps, rehabilitating infrastructures in communities that were damaged, etc.

Also approved was the construction of evacuation roads in Tirat Hacarmel, Daliyat al-Carmel and Isfiya. These roads will be built at a cost of approximately NIS 14 million.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said during Sunday’s meeting: “We are busy with the very quick rehabilitation of the Carmel area. Next Sunday, we will issue a memorandum for a decision on three areas: The establishment of a national fire authority, an aerial firefighting force and dealing with earthquakes. We will submit budgets for this. I believe that this reflects our commitment to ensure that we doing our utmost so that disasters of this kind do not recur.”

Meanwhile, a special youth assembly is scheduled to be held on Monday in Haifa, in memory of 16-year-old volunteer firefighter Elad Riven, the fire’s youngest victim, who died while trying to save others trapped in the fire.

The assembly will be attended by Prime Minister Netanyahu, his wife Sarah, Education Minister Gideon Saar, Elad Riven’s family and classmates, and Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav. More than 2,000 youths who serve as volunteers for different organizations will take part in the assembly.