Photo: Zohar Shahar (Reproduction)
The government is set to vote Sunday to recognize three firefighters who died in the Carmel fire this winter as Israel's fallen, Interior Minister Eli Yishai and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu concluded in talks Friday.
In addition, the two decided that the Knesset would discuss over the summer the possibility of recognizing all members of the state's rescue forces who died in national disasters as Israel's fallen as well.
The decision was made after firefighters threatened to strike Thursday over the fact that the three victims - Uri Semande'ev, Danny Hayat, and 16-year old volunteer firefighter Elad Riban – were not to be mentioned during Israel's Memorial Day.
In talks Friday morning, however, it was agreed that the names would be mentioned during ceremonies in the three firefighters' home towns – Afula, Haifa, and Migdal Ha'emek.
Bus torched by Carmel blaze (Photo: Reuters)
The firefighters' fight for the victims' recognition was not an easy one. Yad Labanim, the organization responsible for commemorating Israel's fallen, refused to include the names in this year's upcoming ceremonies, eliciting an angry response from the bereaved families.
"Once the prime minister decides our boys will be recognized as Israel's fallen you cannot erase them like this. You can't prevent their mention at ceremonies. If they want to cause our boys to be forgotten we will not allow them to hold ceremonies," Mordechai Semande'ev, Uri's father, told Ynet, adding that firefighters would refuse to provide the security necessary by law in order to hold Memorial Day ceremonies.
But the head of Yad Labanim's Afula branch, Nisim Ohayon, explained that it was a matter of protocol deciding who is a member of Israel's fallen. "If the protocol was changed I would go and add their names myself," he said.
Hanan Greenberg contributed to this report
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