On Sunday, April 14, a delegation of 11 Israeli experts landed in Ethiopia to assist local firefighters working to extinguish a complex forest fire in Simien Mountains National Park for the past two weeks. The mountains are near the city of Gondar, home to most of Ethiopia’s remaining Jewish community.
Following a direct appeal for Israel’s help from Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed last Friday, the operation was coordinated by Israel’s embassy in Addis Ababa with Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Public Safety’s Fire & Rescue Authority.
The Israeli delegation is being led by Zion Shenkar, who was born in Ethiopia and was the Israel Defense Force’s first-ever battalion commander from the Ethiopian community.
The 220-square-kilometer (84-square-mile) Simien Mountains National Park, nicknamed the “Roof of Africa” because it forms the largest continuous area of elevation on the continent, is a World Heritage Site providing a habitat for rare animals such as the Gelada baboon, the Simien fox and the Walia ibex.