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January 6, 2011

Who is to blame for deaths in Israel’s Carmel forest fire?

http://www.jewishjournal.com/blog/item/who_is_to_blame_for_deaths_in_israels_forest_fire_20110106/

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In the wake of Israel’s destructive Carmel forest fires last month, the battle over who’s to blame has intensified. Some Israelis have blamed their government for not being prepared, pointing fingers at Prime Minister Netanyahu and at Shas Interior Minister Eli Yishai. Now Shas representatives in the Knesset are turning on the late Haifa police chief Ahuva Tomer, who died as a result of burns from the fire. Tomer’s friends, family and key associates are calling accusations against Tomer “cynical and political.”

Haaretz has the story:

Associates of Interior Minister Eli Yishai said Thursday that deceased Haifa police chief Ahuva Tomer was the one responsible for the deaths of forty-four rescue service personnel in the Carmel fire.

“It’s hard to say it, but the one responsible for the Carmel fire disaster is Ahuva Tomer, not Eli Yishai,” senior officials in Shas were quoted as saying.

Yishai’s associates put the blame on Tomer, saying that she approved the passage of a bus, which carried prison service course cadets who came to aid in the fire rescue, through a road that ended up being encircled in flames.

Netanyahu and Yishai also recently drew some heavy criticism for their handling of the disaster.

Interior Minister Eli Yishai left the memorial soon after Danny Rosen, the partner of fallen Haifa Police Chief Ahuva Tomer, stood and told Netanyahu that he would not remain at the ceremony unless Yishai stepped out.

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Some relatives have demanded that the state investigate Netanyahu, Yishai, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak in particular over negligence during the fire, saying the discussion regarding their conduct does not belong in court but rather in the public domain.

All this, as questions arise as to whether or not Israel was prepared for such a disaster.

The Chim-Nir aviation company, which handles much of Israel’s aerial firefighting, warned the finance and interior ministries over a year ago of a “critical shortage” of the chemicals needed to put out forest fires.

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