Aftermath: Charity Responds to Israeli Fire Victims

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Nearly four days after the deadliest fire in Israel's history erupted in the northern part of the country, authorities announced Sunday that all major blazes had been contained.

"Our news for this evening is control," fire official Boaz Rakia told reporters at nightfall Sunday. "The fire department has declared that the fire is under control."

More than a dozen nations helped Israel fight to contain the inferno that prompted the thousands of evacuations and left 42 people dead.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked the many who came to the aid of the Jewish state during its crisis.

"We are very grateful, very, very grateful, to dozens and dozens of leaders, heads of governments, prime ministers, presidents, who have unstintingly offered to help Israel, did in fact help Israel in every capacity they can, whether in planes, helicopters, firefighting expertise," he said

"We are very grateful for this and it moves our heart," the prime minister added.

See a slideshow of the damage from Israel's worst fire in history here.

Find out how you can help CBN's Operation Blessing International provide aid to Israel's fire victims.

With the fire almost under control, most of the international firefighters along with thousands of Israeli evacuees will soon be returning home.

"From our point of view, the danger has passed for all the places that were evacuated," Rakia said.

Hundreds of Israelis who lost nearly everything, however, will have to deal with the aftermath.

The fires destroyed the collective farming village of Beit Oren and a large part of an artist community called Ein Hod. As the sun set just three days after the fire began, many of those affected consoled each other, met with family counselors, and looked to an uncertain future.

"I have nothing," lamented resident Ziva Kainer, who lost the home she built 30 years ago. "I went this morning up and I saw that all the house melted."

Ronny Lieberman, an Israeli family counselor, empathized with the villagers' grief.

"It's so sad, just so sad," he said. "You can't explain it. You have to be here to feel it. It's a disaster."

In the midst of the disaster, CBN's Operation Blessing International arrived to give those who lost nearly every earthly possession emergency financial donations.

"I've spoken to people who are still in the clothes they've had for the past two days, and we've able to give them assistance to just help them through this very traumatic first couple of days," said Charmaine Hedding, director of Operation Blessing Israel.

The relief, support and human contact meant a great deal.

"I think Operation Blessing became the first organization to take the initiative, come to the ground to see what's happening, see what the population needs," Ministry of Foreign Affairs's Danny Shahem said.

"Be it clothing, relief needs, generators, toys to kids, mattresses, you name it - they've brought it, so it's wonderful," he said.

Meanwhile, Operation Blessing continues to meet with local leaders and residents to assess their most pressing needs.

"As we are get into the communities, we're finding there's more and more to do, so we'll just continue to assist them wherever there's a need," Hedding said.

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CBN News
Chris Mitchell

Chris Mitchell

CBN News Middle East Bureau Chief

In a time where the world's attention is riveted on events in the Middle East, CBN viewers have come to appreciate Chris Mitchell's timely reports from this explosive region of the world. Mitchell brings a Biblical and prophetic perspective to these daily news events that shape our world.