Chile fire: Israel offers aid to restore national park
The Foreign Ministry on Tuesday published an official statement that addressed the Torres del Paine National Park fire, rejecting Chilean calls for Israel
to remunerate Chile
for the damages. The ministry said that Israel will plant seedlings in the Chilean nature reserve hit by wildfires
but will not send Chile compensation.
In the statement, Israel noted that it identifies with Chile following a similar disaster in Israel’s Carmel Forest
and added that it offered Chile aid through a delegation of forestation experts.
- Chile battles multiple wildfires; arson suspected
- Chile senator demands fire compensation
- Israeli tourist: Wildfire in Chile not my fault
“Israel had experienced a similar disaster last year with the Carmel fire and the painful memory sharpens the sense of a shared fate,” the announcement stated.
“The deep friendship that the Israeli people feel towards Chile is stronger than ever, and on its basis we are interested in sending a delegation of experts in the field of forestation to assist their colleagues in any way they can.”
More than 700 firefighters were still working to contain the massive wildfire that erupted at Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park last week.
Rotem Singer in Chilean court (Photo: AP)
Meanwhile, Chileans were debating over how Israel should compensate Chile for the fire.
Alejandro Navarro, head of the Chilean Senate’s Environment Committee, said “when someone commits a crime in a foreign country against a heritage site, his country is morally and legally obligated to compensate for the heavy damage.”
He noted that in 2005, when a Czech tourist caused a fire of a similar scale in the Torres del Paine National Park, the Czech government paid Chile 144,400 euros (about $190,000) in compensation and assisted in the rehabilitation efforts.
The fires are now considered to be the work of arsonists. “This is very strange and naturally, the government is very concerned,” Agriculture Minister Luis Mayol told reporters on Monday.
It is unclear at this time how these recent developments will affect the case against Israeli national Rotem Singer, a tourist who was charge with negligently causing the fire. Singer has denied the allegation.
Mayol said that the extreme weather conditions in the park were, in part, responsible for the raging flame. He stressed that authorities were pursuing several leads, including the possible involvement of Mapuche Indians – Chile’s largest indigenous minority – who demand the return of their ancestral lands.
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