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Forest Fires Rage Across Israel

Contact: Jodi Bodner • JNF Director of Communications • 212-879-9305 ext. 221 •

June 30, 2010 -- Over 300,000 trees were destroyed in major fires that devastated Israeli forests on Tuesday. The fires burned over 750 acres of forested and open areas. A Jewish National Fund (JNF) spokesperson said that Tuesday marked the single largest day of fires in Israel since the 2006 war with Hezbollah, and that it would take 50 years to restore the forests.

Investigators say the evidence that they have found so far points to arson as the cause of many of the fires, especially the large one south of Beit Shemesh, as the fire spread from several locations simultaneously. The severe heat wave prevailing in Israel on Tuesday served to further intensify the fires and expand the total area affected.

All residents of the agricultural community Sdot Micha, located near Beit Shemesh, were evacuated from their homes and several homes reportedly burned down. Residents at the adjacent communities of Tirosh and Gefen were also evacuated. No resident was reported hurt but three fire fighters were evacuated to receive treatment for smoke inhalation.

Fires raged elsewhere across the country, including several medium-sized fires near Jerusalem and several large scale fires in the Galilee.

Despite the rapid and successful response, Israel still suffers from a lack of firefighting personnel and equipment.

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JEWISH NATIONAL FUND (JNF) began in 1901 as a dream and vision to reestablish a homeland in Israel for Jewish people everywhere. Jews the world over collected coins in iconic JNF Blue Boxes, purchasing land and planting trees until ultimately, their dream of a Jewish homeland was a reality. JNF gives all generations of Jews a unique voice in building a prosperous future for the land of Israel and its people.

JNF embodies both heart and action; our work is varied in scope but singular in benefit. We strive to bring an enhanced quality of life to all of Israel’s residents, and translate these advancements to the world beyond. JNF is greening the desert with millions of trees, building thousands of parks, creating new communities and cities for generations of Israelis to call home, bolstering Israel’s water supply, helping develop innovative arid-agriculture techniques, and educating both young and old about the founding and importance of Israel and Zionism.

JNF is a registered 501(c)(3) organization and United Nations NGO, which continuously earns top ratings from charity overseers.

For more information on JNF, call 888-JNF-0099 or visit


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