Fire scandal: Israel rejected firefighting plane
Israel - Carmel blaze disgrace: The massive "Supertanker" firefighting aircraft, which arrived in Israel days into the disaster and played a key role in extinguishing the flames, was offered to the Foreign Ministry on the fire's first day but rejected.
The Israel representative for Evergreen, the company that owns the huge plane, says he offered its services to the Foreign Ministry's situation room but was dismissed. Notably, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later boasted that his military secretary "found the plane on Google."
The major blaze in northern Israel claimed 43 lives and burned tens of thousands of dunams of forests.
Yoram Gavron, a Haifa resident, told Ynet he saw the fire in its early stages and immediately called the company's CEO to inform him of the disaster and receive his permission to bring the Supertanker to Israel.
"I spoke with a friend in the Air Force and phoned the Foreign Ministry's situation room," Gavron says. "A young woman responded and loudly told me that the Ministry does not work with private companies. I sent a fax in the evening, but nobody responded."
"They didn't listen to me. The next day I heard they found out about the company through Google," he said. "When Israeli officials approached the company, our representatives in the US told them they are aware of the situation and that preparations are already underway."
However, the Foreign Ministry later dismissed Gavron's claims. "An official inquiry from Mr. Gavron was received at the situation room late Thursday, and on Friday already the plane was summoned to Israel," the Ministry said, adding the inquiry was handled "on the spot and without delay."
The Supertanker, which cost Israel's taxpayers some NIS 6 million (roughly $1.8 million) is still in Israel and is scheduled to return to the US Wednesday.