Prime Minister Julia Gillard today announced that Australia will provide urgent assistance to help combat the bushfires in Carmel forest in Northern Israel.
The three-day old bushfires have already ravaged about 30,000 acres and claimed over 40 lives.
The Prime Minister said Australia would move quickly to make both expertise and resources available following a formal request from the Israeli Government yesterday.
The Prime Minister also spoke directly to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to confirm Australia’s assistance and convey her condolences, and those of the people of Australia, to the people of Israel at this difficult time.
A team of air base managers and air attack controllers with expertise in controlling or directing fire-fighting aircraft are being deployed to Israel within the next 24 hours. This team includes the Chief Fire Officer for the Victorian Department of Sustainability and the Environment, Mr Ewan Waller.
Arrangements are also underway to transport chemical fire retardant if this is required by Israel. The provision of other resources is also being investigated.
The Australian Defence Force is assisting with logistics.