Israel will help Brazil in battling fires raging in the Amazon rainforest.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Sunday to offer assistance in extinguishing the blazes. Israel will send a firefighting aircraft and flame-retardant materials, O Globo newspaper reported.
“Many thanks to dozens of heads of state who listened to me and helped us overcome a crisis that only interested those who want to weaken Brazil,” Bolsonaro tweeted Sunday.
Under international pressure, Bolsonaro on Friday authorised the use of 44,000 troops to battle the fire, the most serious since 2013, when the country began tracking them using official data.
Brazilian far-left activists have used the situation to distill their anger against the right-wing Bolsonaro, who was elected by nearly 60 percent of voters, putting an end to 15 years of governments with openly anti-Israel stances.
Some world leaders and celebrities seeking to denounce the administration using the fires have unwittingly ended up misleading millions on social media, either sharing photographs of the region that are years old or images taken in other parts of the world.
In January, Israel sent a rescue team and equipment to Brazil to help in the search for hundreds feared dead following the collapse of a dam at a mine.
On Jan. 1, Netanyahu attended Bolsonaro’s inauguration and became the first sitting Israeli prime minister to visit Brazil. In April, the ardently pro-Israel Christian Bolsonaro became the first head of state to tour the Western Wall accompanied by an Israeli prime minister.
Like evangelical and deeply conservative politicians in the United States, Bolsonaro is divisive among Jewish voters, who tend to be socially liberal but want their representatives to be strongly pro-Israel.
Before his election, he was stabbed in the stomach in Juiz de Fora during a rally. The attacker told the police he was “on a mission from God.”
In the wake of the stabbing, Bolsonaro refused treatment at an Arab hospital commonly chosen by the country’s senior politicians, and was transferred to Albert Einstein Hospital in São Paulo. However the Jewish federation’s president sought to reduce tensions, saying: “Brazilian Arabs and Jews use both Albert Einstein and Syrian-Lebanese hospitals with total confidence and cordiality.
Bolsonaro has caused controversy with many of his views in the past, including outspoken opposition to LGBT rights and abortion, as well as being a critic of environmental regulation and drug liberalisation.
He has also voiced his support for the previous military dictatorship and claimed that the use of torture was “legitimate practice”, while having been accused of racism and misogyny also.