Egyptian Help Symbolizes Peace as Nations Assist Israel in Battling Wildfires

Israel and Egypt worked together on battling the wildfires. Illustrative photo of Israeli PM Netanyahu and Egyptian FM Shoukry. Photo courtesy of by Haim Zach / GPO

Multiple nations assisted Israel in battling the latest outbreak of wildfires that raged in the Jewish state, and Israeli officials made a point of expressing their thanks over the weekend to the foreign countries that helped—including one particular act of support that shows the potential for Middle East peace. “Israeli fire fighters and an Egyptian helicopter were working together yesterday in order to put out a huge fire that broke out in southern Israel. This is what peace is all about,” tweeted Israeli Prime Minister’s Office spokesman Ofir Gendelman on Saturday.

Egypt and Israel were once open enemies engaged in multiple conflicts until a US-brokered peace treaty took effect 40 years ago. Gendelman’s comments come after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi “my friend” in his thanks for Egypt sending a pair of helicopters to fight the fires, according to a press release from Israel’s office.

Even the Palestinian Authority—which has repeatedly rejected peace talks with Israel—reached out to Israel during the crisis, according to Netanyahu, whose comments were published by his office on Friday. Two days later, the Israeli Premier not only took time to thank the countries who helped, but noted their aid says something about Israel too.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the leaders of the many countries that sent us aerial assistance,” said Netanyahu in comments also published by his office. “It was important and also attests to cooperation with Israel and to Israel’s standing.”

Overall, five nations were publicly signaled out by Netanyahu for helping Israel, and on Sunday, Director General of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs Yuval Rotem took to Twitter to thank them all name.

“Thank you #Egypt, #Cyprus, #Greece, #Croatia and #Italy for being there in our time of need, taking an active part in the effort to combat the forest fires across our country. Your friendship is greatly appreciated!” tweeted Rotem.

Netanyahu, in his comments on Sunday, pushed back against claims that foreign assistance was not needed for putting out the fires. “I heard that it was said that the aerial assistance I brought in from other countries was ‘unnecessary.’ I reject this outright—it was not unnecessary. When we are talking about saving lives it is better to have too much than too little, and this is what we did,” said the Israeli leader.

Or as Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emanuel Nachson posted to Twitter on Friday in response to offers of assistance, “. A friend in need is a friend indeed.”

(By Joshua Spurlock,, May 26, 2019)

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