The cabinet today approved a NIS 60 million aid package for local authorities and communities damaged by the Carmel fire. The plan will include indemnification for local authorities for damages within their jurisdictions for the evacuation and housing of residents, firefighting efforts, clean-up of communities, and repairs to infrastructures.
Meanwhile, police have for the first time said that the conflagration has mainly been brought under control. Firefighting efforts continue at three main points: Usfiya, Nir Etzion, and Wadi Galim.
Prime Minister Netanyahu instructed Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz to submit, within four days, a map of the damages that were caused as a result of the fire, as well as of the government and private insurance coverage. Within an additional four days, Steinitz will submit an outline for an efficient policy for providing a fair and rapid response for covering damages that were not fully insured.
Netanyahu said additional budgets would be allocated as needed. He told the cabinet to expedite the compensation procedures. "I want neither delays nor bureaucracy. I want all the evacuees to be able to return to their lives as soon as possible," he said.
Today's cabinet meeting was held in Tirat Hacarmel. The cabinet decided that, in order to enable the immediate return of all residents whose homes were burned, the Government Housing Administration will immediately provide mobile homes in communities where homes and public buildings were burned.
In order to rehabilitate the Carmel Nature Reserve, the cabinet decided that a comprehensive plan would be formulated on restoring the flora and fauna damaged in the fire, as well the Hai Bar Carmel animal park, campgrounds and the Carmel Farm. The cabinet also decided to supplement the social welfare and social services network in the damaged areas, and that a plan would be formulated on rehabilitating and strengthening the citizens, local councils and communities that were damaged, with emphasis on residents with special needs.
At the start of the meeting, Netanyahu asked State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss, who is due to submit a report on Israel's firefighting capabilities, to also examine the preparedness and handling of the Carmel fire disaster. At the recommendation of the Israel Air Force, Netanyahu halted the arrival of additional firefighting plans, since the planes now available are sufficient to combat the remaining fires.
Two brothers aged 16 and 14 from Usfiya have been remanded in custody until Wednesday while police investigate suspicions that they caused the outbreak of fire on the Carmel on Thursday when they abandoned a bonfire without extinguishing it. The boys' father denies that they were involved in such an incident.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on December 5, 2010
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