'The bigger the fire, the slower the restoration'

Hezbollah rockets spark fires burning 10,000 dunams of open areas in north

Nature and Parks Authority official says it will take years for local flora to repair itself after Sunday blaze destroyed parts of Yehudiya Forest Nature Reserve

View of a large fire caused from rockets fired from Lebanon, near the northern town of Katzrin, June 2, 2024. (Ayal Margolin/Flash90
View of a large fire caused from rockets fired from Lebanon, near the northern town of Katzrin, June 2, 2024. (Ayal Margolin/Flash90

Rockets fired by Hezbollah at the north of the country on Sunday caused bushfires that consumed 10,000 dunams of foliage in open areas, including nature reserves, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority said.

Dozens of firefighters worked for hours to gain control of the blaze that was started by a barrage of rockets fired at the town of Katzrin on the Golan Heights and other areas. Some areas were still burning on Monday.

Sharon Levi, director of INPA’s Golan District, told the Ynet news outlet on Monday that the fire had caused damage to the Yehudiya Forest Nature Reserve, burning areas that include hiking trails, and the reserve’s Black Canyon.

Though the trails will soon be reopened, it will take the flora a long time to recover, he said.

“A fire of 10,000 dunams (2,471 acres) is a big fire,” Levi said.

Though “nature has the ability to restore,” he added, “the bigger the fire — the slower the restoration.”

View of a large fire caused from rockets fired from Lebanon, near the northern town of Katzrin, June 2, 2024. (Ayal Margolin/Flash90)

Levi explained it takes time for trees to regrow and for animals to repopulate affected areas.

“Some things are restored within a year, and some are restored within several years, but in the end, the area will be restored,” he said.

Hezbollah fired at least 40 rockets in several barrages on Sunday after the Israeli military carried out a wave of overnight strikes against the terror group.

A barrage of at least 15 rockets was fired at Katzrin, striking open areas and sparking a large fire south of the city, according to the IDF and the Fire and Rescue Service. There were no reports of injuries in the attack.

Hezbollah claimed to have fired dozens of rockets at an IDF base in the area.

It took 15 fire trucks and crews and six firefighting planes to gain control of the blaze.

A waterfall in the Yehudiya Forest Nature Reserve in the Golan Heights on January 26, 2018. (Maor Kinsbursky/Flash90)

In other barrages on Sunday, 15 rockets were fired at the Kiryat Shmona area, and another eight were launched at the largely evacuated border community of Margaliot. According to the IDF, all of the rockets were intercepted.

Another rocket attack on Kiryat Shmona lightly wounded two people, the municipality said.

In the area of Kiryat Shmona, Yiftach, and Aniam a further 1,200 dunams were burned due to fires started by rockets. Of those, 750 dunams were from the Mordot Harei Naftali nature reserve, Eran Himes, director of the Upper Galilee division of the INPA, said in a statement.

The fire damaged one of the oldest Mount Atlas pistachio trees in the reserve, he noted. Some of the trees in the area are at least 400 years old.

There have also been fires on the Lebanese side of the border due to IDF retaliatory strikes at Hezbollah.

On Monday, more rocket fire started another blaze in the north.

Fires on Ramim Ridge on the outskirts of the northern city of Kiryat Shmona, Upper Galilee near the Lebanese border as a result of rocket fire from Hezbollah, on June 3, 2024 (Michael Giladi/ Flash90)

A large fire blazed in the Ramim Ridge area, near Kiryat Shmona, reportedly as a result of rocket impacts in the area over the previous 24 hours. The Fire and Rescue Services said nine firefighting teams were called out to tackle the fire. Meanwhile, the service said firefighting efforts also continued dealing with the fire that started the day before near Katzrin.

Since October 8, Hezbollah-led forces have attacked Israeli communities and military posts along the border on a near-daily basis, with the group saying it is doing so to support Gaza amid the war against Hamas there.

So far, the skirmishes on the border have resulted in 10 civilian deaths on the Israeli side, as well as the deaths of 14 IDF soldiers and reservists. There have also been several attacks from Syria, without any injuries.

Hezbollah has named 326 members who have been killed by Israel during the ongoing skirmishes, mostly in Lebanon but some also in Syria. In Lebanon, another 62 operatives from other terror groups, a Lebanese soldier, and dozens of civilians have been killed.

Israel has expressed openness to a diplomatic solution to the conflict, but has threatened to go to war against Hezbollah to restore security to the north of Israel, from where tens of thousands of civilians are currently displaced.

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