Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the Druze village of Usfiya on Sunday after convening his cabinet in the northern city of Tirat Carmel. Although the fire raging on Mount Carmel in the past few days began in Usfiya, Israel's Druze residents are among its main victims.
Netanyahu spoke about the sights and sounds he experienced on the way. "We stopped on the Carmel range and heard the whisper of the great bird," he said, referring to the Evergreen Supertanker aerial firefighting aircraft which went into action on Sunday morning.
"We are less than 72 hours into the event, and I think we are beginning to gain control, We will know more tonight, and we may use this Supertanker tonight. We'll operate it in a bid to put the fire out once and for all."
Netanyahu, who met with senior Druze officials in Usfiya, preferred to look on the bright side. "In other countries, big fires took longer. We have been asked, 'How can you put out a big fire in less than three days, while it takes other countries three weeks?' My response was, 'We have no other country, and it's a very small country.'
"The government's mission, the firefighters' mission, the IDF's mission, the Air Forces' mission is one – saving our small country, our Carmel. I hope we will get there today. This is the land of all of us."
Netanyahu said he was advancing a plan to restore the green mountain, which has turned black. "The Carmel is something special, so there is international willingness to restore what has been destroyed. The international recruitment included our Arab neighbors. We received help from Jordan's King Abdullah. Egypt's president, the Palestinian Authority chairman. May this disaster bring about good, bring about peace."