The investigation into the deadly gas explosion which took place in downtown Netanya late Thursday night is in full swing: The two suspects arrested in connection with the explosion were remanded on Friday and will remain in police custody for now.
Three women and one man were killed and some 90 others were wounded, most of them lightly, in the blast, which took out a four-storey building adjacent to Ha'atzmaut Square in downtown Netanya. The man was identified as 28-year-old Mohammed Abu Ata from Wadi Ara. The names of the other three victims have yet to be released.
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One of the suspects arrested in the case is Daniel Yisrael, 50, a technician with the PazGaz Gas Company, who reportedly inspected the building's gas tanks mere hours before the deadly blast. His superiors have been questioned as well.
The second suspect, Rahamim (Rami) Gueta, 46, was spotted in the vicinity of the building and later arrested on suspicion of metal theft. He was initially released, but arrested again after the blast. Gueta was found to be in possession of iron pipes, and police are examining whether they originated from the building.
The police are investigating Yisrael on suspicion of negligent homicide, depraved indifference and possible manslaughter, as they believe that his maintenance of the gas line which exploded was severely negligent.
Gueta is suspected of manslaughter, theft, intentionally damaging property and the illegal possession of a knife.
Yisrael's family was present in the courtroom and was visibly upset, saying the media was quick to assign blame sans any proof.
(Photos: George Ginsburg)
"This kind of suspicion can finish a man's career, finish his family," said his brother-in-law.
"He lives by the job's safety codes and he's relentless about them," he added. "It's wrong to accuse him of negligence, especially when they are still investigation sabotage."
Negligence or foul play?
The police ruled out the possibility of a terror attack in the initial stages of the investigation. Nevertheless, it has yet to be determined whether the gas leak responsible for the tragedy was the result of an accident, negligence or foul play.
Four people who were injured in Thursday's blast were still hospitalized on Friday, at the Hillel Yaffe Medical Center in Hadera and Laniado Hospital in Netanya. All are in mild condition.
Overnight, some 90 people arrived to both hospitals, the majority of whom were suffering from shock.
Multiple Home Front Command and Rescue Services teams were still at the scene of the blast on Friday morning, working to remove debris from the surrounding area. The were joined by City sanitation crews.
Clearing the debris, Ynet was told, was a complex mission, as traces of gas were still lingering in the air, rendering some of the equipment usually applied in such cases useless. Nevertheless, Colonel Yoram Lev-Ran of the Home Front Command told Ynet that, "We will continue to work until we absolute rule out the chance to find any more survivors."
Avital Laufer deputy mayor of Netanya said that the area has been completely sealed off, "To avoid anyone getting hurt, and the possibility of looting, as well."
Laufer added that the Netanya City Engineer's Office has ordered inspectors to comb through the blast radius and make sure it was safe for residents.
The City is currently attempting to address the need to provide the residents with a housing solution. Eight of the tenants have been put up in hotels in the city.
Yoav Zitun, Hassan Shaalan, Boaz Fyler, Eli Senyor, Hanan Greenberg and Meital Yasur-Beit Or contributed to this report
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