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Chile calls on Israel to compensate for park fire

JTA

January 3, 2012 | 11:20 am

A man works to put out a forest fire near Concepcion city on Jan. 3. Photo by REUTERS/Jose Luis Saavedra

A man works to put out a forest fire near Concepcion city on Jan. 3. Photo by REUTERS/Jose Luis Saavedra

Chilean investigators reportedly believe that a fire in a popular national park is the work of arsonists, though an Israeli remains charged with negligently starting the blaze.

Some Chilean lawmakers have called on Israel to compensate Chile for the damage because an Israeli national has been charged with starting the fire in the Torres del Paine national park. The fires were still burning on Jan. 3 but were under control.

Rotem Singer, 23, of the central Israeli city of Nes Tziona, was arrested Dec. 31 and released on bail. He was ordered to remain in the region for the next three months as the case is investigated.

Some 48 wildfires have burned more than 32,000 acres of forest and destroyed at least 100 homes.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry on Jan. 2 released a statement expressing “solidarity” with Chile and “sorrow” over the destruction to the national park and tourist site.

“Israel has also experienced a similar disaster last year in the Carmel forests, and that painful memory enhances our sense of common destiny,” the statement said.

The Foreign Ministry said that “the deep friendship the Israeli people feel toward Chile is as strong as ever.”

The ministry offered to send a mission of experts in forestry to assist in rehabilitating the forest and to donate tree seedlings for the effort.

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