US Firemen Help Fight Rocket Blazes in Israel


JERUSALEM, Israel -- A delegation of 13 elite U.S. firefighters arrived in Israel to help with the fires set by Hamas rocket attacks.

Affiliated with a group called the Emergency Volunteer Project, the firemen came to help their Israeli counterparts deal with ongoing Hamas rocket attacks in towns and cities in the south, such as Sderot, YNet correspondent Eitan Glickman reported.

These senior firefighters took part in search and rescue missions following the 9/11 terror attacks on Manhattan's World Trade Center.

"We were all part of the massive tragedy that was 9/11. There we undertook search and rescue missions," fireman Billy Hearst from Texas told YNet

"When we heard that hundreds of rockets are falling on Israel we decided to join forces and come and help," he explained. "Flying into Israel from L.A., Washington and Texas, senior fire fighters and officers from the force seemed adamant in their desire to help."

He called the situation "insufferable."

"The rockets fired by Hamas hit homes in Ashkelon, Sderot, and other communities," Hearst continued. "We have already been at scenes in a number of such communities. Our mission is not simple, hard and exhausting, but we must help. The situation here is insufferable."

Israeli fire chief Reshef Tzvika Moyal, with the Ashdod District Fire Services, said the firemen are "from the highest possible professional level."

"There are officers, team leaders, and firefighters who participated in extremely complicated rescue missions," Moyal told YNet. "We have distributed them across the stations facing the heaviest workload since the operation began, and they are in the fire trucks and stations together with their Israeli counterparts, working side by side."

Another member of the U.S. delegation, Robert Katz from Washington, admitted it wasn't easy working under the constant threat of rocket attacks.

"The [Israeli] fire fighters are working like mad men," Katz said. "We are under constant fire and it is not easy. However, it is important for us to help these amazing Israeli forces."

At least 30 senior U.S. firefighters are on standby to come to Israel. Hearst said he and his colleagues can't sit idly by in the United States.

"We cannot ignore this reality when Israeli firefighters work hour after hour to save human life," he said.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington provided substantial funding for the Emergency Volunteer Project.

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