Israel is Burning

November has passed and winter is “in the air” throughout most of the northern hemisphere – cold, rainy and, in some places, even snowy. But, in Israel this November, with unseasonably high temperatures and no rain on the horizon, most people were still wearing shortp1520717-1027-260-180 sleeves. Dry weather, together with strong winds is ideal for the spread of fires – and Israel has been hit by an unprecedented wave of wildfires. Haifa, Zichron Ya’akov, Hadera, Atlit, Modi’in, Rishon Letzion, the Jerusalem hills and the Western Galilee all had to deal with major conflagrations, with new blazes constantly appearing. Streets were closed, numerous houses went up in flames, thousands of people were evacuated, many were injured and left homeless and numerous natural areas were ravaged.

Whether accidental or the result of arson, extremely dry air, along with high temperatures and strong winds, affect a fire’s scope and spread – and the chance that it will lead to widespread damage that can take years to reverse. The huge Mt. Carmel fire in 2010 is a tragic example: For four days a huge blaze caused by irresponsible local youths consumed the mountainside forests, and Israeli firefighters were unable to check its rapid spread. 44 people lost their lives, 17,000 were evacuated from their homes, millions of trees were burnt and horrific ecological damage was caused to a unique nature reserve.

While the reasons for the current wave of fires are still under investigation, once this will be resolved  an analysis of previous data shows that most such blazes were caused by humans – the result of carelessness, lack of awareness or neglect. At the Council for a Beautiful Israel we believe that prevention is the best way to deal with fires and other man-made disasters and that the impact of the human factor can be reduced through value-oriented education emphasizing personal responsibility.


Following the 2010 Mt. Carmel fire, Beautiful Israel's Center for Environmental Studies launched a unique educational program, teaching children and youth about the importance of active citizenship and personal responsibility. This initiative and the values it instills possess enormous added value, extending to numerous aspects of civic life and the environment and encouraging suitable behavior norms in a nation already faced with many other challenges.


Adapted for both elementary and middle schools, the “Active Citizenship – Personal Responsibility” program deals with the impact of human behavior in the public sphere, exposing participants to environmental and social norms, principles of good, responsible citizenship, awareness, caution and reporting; they acquire leadership tools and learn how to bring about change among their neighbors and acquaintances.