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President Rivlin visits village of Nataf, badly damaged by the fires, speaks with firefighters from Israel and around the world, meets local residents Photo by Mark Neiman (GPO)
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President Rivlin visits village of Nataf, badly damaged by the fires, speaks with firefighters from Israel and around the world, meets local residents

27 November 2016

President Rivlin visits village of Nataf, badly damaged by the fires, speaks with firefighters from Israel and around the world, meets local residents 

(Communicated by the President’s Spokesperson)

 

President Reuven Rivlin this morning (Sunday) visited the community of Nataf in the Jerusalem hills which was badly damaged by the fires in the last few days. The President met with the firefighters who had worked tirelessly to battle the blaze in the area, and praised them for their tremendous efforts to save lives and protect properties from the flames. “I wish to thank personally all the firefighters, the police, and the security services, in the name of all the Israeli people,” said the President, and added, “You worked fearlessly and tirelessly, and I am deeply proud of you. Well done.”

 

The President met with the Cohen family, Yaakov and Tamar, whose home was burned down in the blaze, and heard from them about the horrifying moments as they were together with their four children in their home as the fire struck, and they were forced to evacuate to safety. They showed the President the remains of the house and said they had no doubt they would rebuild their home there. The President stood in the wreckage and said, “We have seen here a family who saved themselves, who went in an instant from being safe and sound to facing a sea of flames which could never have been foreseen.”

 

President Rivlin stressed, “We must thank and praise all those who stood on the front-line; the firefighters, police, and home front personnel, and together we praise all the professionals who proved their ability and dedication. We must also praise all the civilian organizations who heeded the instructions and understood what needed to be done.”

 

The President added, “Terror is terror wherever it is found”. He added, “At the same time, we have to understand that we all live in this land and even when there are individuals who out of an intention to fight another people, or against another religion, people who are extremists and do not hesitate to do anything to fan the flames which have the ability to tear apart, and break down the dam so that we will not be able to live here together, these people must be dealt with, with the full force of the law. Cooperation and partnership – perhaps most important in all that happens to us – our interactions with our neighbors and friends in anything to do with firefighting – even in this house – perhaps point to the fact there is hope, because at the end of the day the threat endangers us all, all who seek to live peacefully in this land. Because we have no other land.”

 

Later the President went on to meet with the Israeli pilots, and pilots from all over the world who helped fight the fires. He said, “I have come from Nataf, a community damaged by the flames, whose residents are full of thanks for you, because thanks to you none were injured. In the name of all the Israeli people, I thank each of you from the bottom of my heart for you bravery and generosity, and send my thanks also to your leaders who answered our call for help without hesitation,” he said to pilots from Greece, Cyprus, Croatia, Italy, Turkey, Russia, USA, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, France, Spain, and Romania.

 

He added, “You showed us what real and honest friendship is. Until now you were heroes in your own countries now your heroes in our country, our home as well. Each and every one of you left behind a family, home and a country and boarded a plane at a short notice to extend your hand in assistance to save lives, and I can assure you that indeed you save lives. I don't know if you have been to Israel before yet you demonstrated that your love of humanity has no borders. And of course I would like to invite you to visit here, in our beautiful land, in regular days.”

 

And concluded, “To all our own air force, we thank you for your strength, and for your warm welcome to your colleagues from around the world, and for your ability to join forces for the sake of Israel and her people.” 

 

Attached photo credit: Mark Neiman (GPO)