The fire is out, and now the government is busy treating victims and drawing conclusions – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed Netanya Mayor Miriam Feirberg to head a special task force in charge of aiding residents affected by the Carmel fire.
Feirberg will oversee the work of senior government officials, in order to quickly address the needs of the victims.
Meanwhile, the government also formed a headquarters that will be in charge of restoring the Carmel Forest and establishing a national firefighting network.
Feirberg, who directed Netanya's social services department for many years and was selected due to her executive capabilities and social skills, will mostly handle urgent tasks, so that residents whose houses were damaged during the blaze do not have to face bureaucratic obstacles.
Feirberg will establish a separate headquarters to run the task force, which will not be linked to Netanya's municipality. The team will include Finance Ministry Budget Director Udi Nissan, Construction and Housing Ministry Director-General Mordechai Mordechai, attorney Sarit Dana from the attorney general's office and acting Director-General of the Interior Ministry Amnon Ben-Ami.
According to estimates, the task force will be operational during the next few weeks, and even months.
Feirberg's appointment prompted some criticism among Netanya elements who claimed that as head of the municipalities' fire services she did not treat the matter with the appropriate consideration.
A state official went as far to say that "this appointment is a joke. True, she is an avid Netanyahu supporter at the Likud but how will madam handle the accountant general and governmental bureaucracy? Why not take ministers like Yossi Peled or Benny Begin."
She did however receive support in Netanya by the likes of councilman Kobi Levy who described her as a "bulldozer."
First people, then infrastructure
In their assessment meeting, Netanyahu instructed Feirberg to prioritize the team's work to handle people first, then damaged houses, and only afterwards deal with infrastructure and restoring the communities themselves.
The task force's mission is to circumvent bureaucratic hindrances and infuse governmental budgets into the area as quickly and efficiently as possible, so that residents can return to their routine lives.
The Prime Minister's Office stated that the special task force will operate on a governmental budget.
In addition to the special short-term task force, Netanyahu appointed a team for long-term missions that will be handled by the government, and include the restoration of the Carmel and the establishment of a national firefighting network, headed by Prime Minister's Office Director-General Eyal Gabai.
In a press conference at the Prime Minister's Office Monday evening, Fireberg said she will do "everything that is needed to assist the residents who suffered from the fire and spare them the bureaucratic procedures."
Responding to reporters' questions, Netanyahu said he is not dealing with the establishment of a commission of inquiry. "I am dealing with saving lives and restoring damages," he said, adding "we know that firefighting services have been neglected for decades. We have enough conclusions and not enough implementation."
The prime minister explained that the rehabilitation process needs to be conducted quickly. "I insisted on shortening bureaucratic procedures and asked my friend Miriam Feirberg to head this special task force so that she can turn directly to me and to the ministers; she knows us all," he noted.
"I want to see people back in their homes as soon as possible, and take care of the reconstruction of houses at the speed of lightning," Netanyahu said.
Yair Altman, Raanan Ben-Zur and Attila Somfalvi contributed to this report
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