Israel News for November 28, 2016

Airstrikes in Syria
The Israel Air Force (IAF) attacked and destroyed a military outpost used by ISIS related militants in the Syrian Golan Heights today. The post was abandoned and no injuries were reported. The attack came in response to an attack on an IDF Golani unit that was training near the border by the militants. The soldiers came under fire from a heavy machine gun and returned fire. Moments later the IAF reported killing all four attackers. Several mortars also fell near the border security fence. The IDF has raised the security alert level all along the Syrian border.

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Arson Suspected
Israel Police sources are reporting that a significant number of the approximately 90 fires that raged throughout Israel this past week were caused by arson. Police have so far arrested 23 arson suspects, most of whom are Israeli Arabs. It is still unclear how many of those were nationalistically motivated, but investigators believe that the Haifa fires were terrorism. Police are using sophisticated methods to investigate all the fires.

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) has proposed a bill in the Knesset to classify the arsonists as terrorists. This would give Israel the right to confiscate and/or demolish their property and strip them of their citizenship. It would also allow the government to compensate the arson victims. The bill has wide support, including that of PM Netanyahu, who promised to bring the terrorists to justice.

The PM thanked PA President Abbas for sending firefighters to assist in battling the fires. The PA sent eight fire trucks and about 40 firefighters. The countries that assisted Israel by sending planes and firefighters included the US, Russia, Egypt, Greece, Turkey, Spain, Croatia, Azerbaijan, Italy, Cyprus and Ukraine.

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Fire Damage
While the fires that raged throughout Israel over the past five days have been brought under control, the extensive damage caused to forests and parks could take decades to restore.

In addition to the hundreds of homes and apartments destroyed, the Jewish National Fund (JNF) estimates that 11,000 dunams of forests were incinerated, of which 7,500 were in the Jerusalem Hills. Uri Naveh, head of the Nature and Parks Authority Jerusalem district, said that Cafira nature park in the Jerusalem Hills was one of the areas which was entirely decimated by the fires. “This is one of the important nature reserves in the Judean Hills. There are many animals there—deer, foxes, jackals and hyenas. The process of rehabilitating the reserve could continue for years or even decades.” Even trees that are still standing in the area are as good as dead.

Naveh warned, “It is not yet over. The wind on the Judean Hills is not the same as that in Tel Aviv. It is very strong on the mountains. The danger is not over and at the moment we expect that it could continue within the next 24 hours and could be even shorter than that.” 
To watch a video of the destruction click here.

ElAL Agreement
After weeks of delayed and cancelled flights, El Al has reached an agreement with its pilots to end the labor dispute. According to the agreement the pilots will receive a 7.35% pay raise while agreeing to shorter stays abroad between flights, saving the company the expenses of housing. The pilots will receive financial compensation for this.

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