WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama offered his condolences to the families of blaze victims in Israel Thursday, while pledging American help to the Jewish state in battling the deadliest fire in its history.
“I want to begin by offering our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones, and all those who died as a result of the terrible forest fire in northern Israel," Obama said during a Chanukah candle-light ceremony at the White House. "Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Israel who is affected by this tragedy and the families and loved ones."
As rescuers and firefighters continue in their work, the United States is acting to help our Israeli friends respond to the disaster," the president said. “Of course, that's what friends do for each other."
NY mayor offers help
The US ambassador in Tel Aviv, Jim Cunningham, was working to quickly identify available American assistance and offer it to Israel as soon as possible, Obama told his guests at the White House, which included Israel’s Ambassador in Washington Michael Oren.
Meanwhile, a Boeing 747 carrying fire retardant chemicals was due to leave New York en route to Israel, on the initiative of Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The mayor spoke with Israel’s Consul General in the city, Ido Aharoni, and was told that Israel is in need of chemicals to fight the fire. After it turned out that NY firefighters do not use the required chemicals, senior fire department officials in the city turned to the US Forest Service, which provided the substances.
During the conversation, Mayor Bloomberg pledged to assist Israel in any way possible.
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