Israel is burning. Fires are ripping through the scorched countryside, causing destruction and havoc. Brutally hot temperatures, high winds and low humidity have created conditions prone to wild fires, and Israel has reached out to the international community for help.
Some 3,500 people have been evacuated, and many homes have been burned down. The areas most affected largely lie between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, with the village of Mevo Modi’im, founded by the well-loved musician, Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, destroyed completely. A bride-to-be called out for help on social media as her wedding dress was burned just days before her wedding. The community rallied around offering a wide array of alternatives, and if there’s one thing about disasters, it’s that there are always good people trying to help. As Fred Rogers famously said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.””
Egyptian helicopters have been quenching the fires in Moshav Beit Ezra, Ashdod – a remarkable state of affairs, since the last time they were in the area was in the war of 1948.1 Italy, Greece, Croatia, Egypt, and Cyprus have all sent help, gratefully received by Israel, and even the Palestinian Authority has extended an offer of help. Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, announced, “We received additional offers, including from the PA and others.” 2 The Times of Israel reported that Netanyahu applauded the firefighting and rescue services for their “excellent” handling of the crisis, while warning, “the challenge is still ahead of us.”
Israel is a heavily-wooded country – a fact that surprises many. It is one of only two countries that entered the new century with a net gain of trees, but the tree-planting is so prolific that some experts suggest it should be slowed down precisely because of this danger of forest fires. “The damage is enormous, not just to the woodland, but also to the animals,” said a JNF official (the Jewish National Fund manages many of Israel’s nature areas). “Large swaths of the woodland, the green lung of the Dan region were burnt. We did not expect such a painful blow since we spent the whole night expelling people who lit bonfires.”3 The traditional bonfires for “Lag B’Omer” were banned this year, but it seems not everybody followed the instructions.
There will also be those in Gaza who are eager to capitalize on the fact that the surrounding Israeli countryside is like a tinderbox right now, but there are many around the world who are helping in practical ways and also in praying for God to intervene.
Please join us in calling out for God’s help, protection, and mercy at this critical time for Israel.
 The Times of Israel, Netanyahu thanks Egypt for sending firefighting helicopters, says PA offered aid, 24 May 2019
 YNet News, Several homes destroyed as Israel battles major wildfires; massive damage to Ben Shemen woodland, 23 May 2019
Photo by Christopher Burns on Unsplash