With a historically massive and lethal wildfire threatening Cyprus, Israel responded quickly to a request for aid from the ally on Sunday by sending a pair of firefighting planes, equipment, and flame retardant material to help. And within one day of getting the call, Israel’s assistance was not only in action, but already highlighted by the Cyprus government in an announcement that substantial progress had been made in controlling the fire.
Deputy Government Spokeswoman Ms. Niovi Parisinou, according to a report published by the Cyprus Press and Information Office and translated by Google, said in remarks to reporters on Sunday that following the “effective” work by Greek and Israeli aircraft and “the reduction of outbreaks,” inspections had been done on impacted communities and those “are now considered safe.” She highlighted that the work to put out the fires could not end until all were extinguished, but said that persons could return home where it was safe to do so.
Not only was the firefighting work quick to make progress against the flames, but the entire Israeli response was quick according to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. The Israeli leader on Sunday said that Cyprus “appealed to us for assistance in extinguishing giant wildfires” during the Sabbath on Saturday, but by that night, various offices in Israel’s government had already cooperated to approve the aid.
“Cyprus is a great friend of Israel and we stand at its side,” said Bennett in the comments published by his office. “The assistance was quickly organized out in cooperation between the Foreign Minister, the Public Security Minister and the Prime Minister’s Office. This is how things are done in this government—everything happens quickly, in rapid coordination, the transition from decision to execution.”
By Sunday, the IDF Twitter feed had reported that “a joint aid delegation of @IAFsite and Israel’s Fire Brigade just departed to assist in extinguishing fires that broke out in Cyprus. IAF firefighting aircraft will bring flame retardants and technical equipment to help our ally in their time of need.”
The quick response by Israel was warranted given the danger in Cyprus.
Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, in a Twitter post on Sunday translated by Google, called the blaze “a tragedy. The largest fire since 1974. Losses of life, property, land and forest were destroyed.”
In a prior post on Saturday, also translated by Google, Anastasiades tweeted out thanks to Israel and Greece “for already responding” with firefighting aircraft.
The Cyprus Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in response to an Israeli post that the firefighting team had arrived, thanked Israel in their own Twitter post on Sunday “for your #solidarity and readiness to offer tangible and critical assistance in this hour of need. #StrongerTogether.”
The Israeli aid was announced on Saturday night in a joint statement by the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister and the Public Security Minister. The statement highlighted “Israel’s close ties with Cyprus, with emphasis on mutual assistance in times of emergency.”
It likely helped that cooperation between the two nations had already been contemplated, with the statement noting Israel was able to develop an aid plan “based on the existing cooperation agreement between the two countries’ fire and rescue services.”
The statement also noted that Foreign Minister Yair Lapid spoke with his counterpart, Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides, and said that Israel “would do everything it could to assist Cyprus in gaining control of the events.”
Thanks to a quick response by Israel, progress has been made to do just that.
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, July4, 2021)