Carmel fire monument
Photo: Dan Amir

PM: Carmel fire monument immortalizes heroes

Relatives of wildfire victims gather on road where Prison Service cadets' bus caught fire. PM says 'entire nation recognizes victims' legacy of heroism,' while Rivlin warns against 'complacency'

Hundreds of people gathered at the road leading to Kibbutz Beit Oren, in the heart of Carmel mountain range, for a memorial ceremony honoring the 44 people who died in last year's wildfire.


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During the service a monument was inaugurated near a curve in the road where a flash blaze engulfed a bus carrying Prison Service cadets.  


The fire in the Carmel region, the deadliest in Israel's history, claimed the lives of 37 Prison Service cadets, two firefighters, a teenage volunteer, a civilian and three police officers.


The names of the victims were inscribed on a cement wall erected near the monument.


"Even when this mountain will be entirely green again, the memory of your loved ones will remain present here forever," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, addressing the victims' relatives.


"The entire nation witnessed the giant flames, and the entire nation feels your pain, but only those who have experienced grief can comprehend the intensity of your pain," he said.

האנדרטה לזכר הרוגי האסון (צילום: אלעד גרשגורן)

Fire victims' names inscribed on wall (Photo: Elad Gershgoren)


"I know that you will never be fully consoled, but some comfort can be found in the legacy of heroism the victims left behind and in the spirit of volunteer work and the great dedication they displayed in the face of fire as they went out to save lives. Comfort can also be found in the fact that the entire nation of Israel recognizes this legacy," added Netanyahu.


Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, who spoke before the PM, said "the country was caught unprepared to deal with a natural disaster of this magnitude.


"Complacency prevents us from heeding warnings. We must translate our rage and fury into a determined demand for change and comprehensive reforms that will protect us from natural disasters," he added.


Danny Rosen, the life partner of fallen Haifa Police Commander Ahuva Tomer, attended the ceremony, but some relatives of Prison Service cadets who perished shunned the ceremony because, according to them, no one claimed responsibility for the deadly woodland inferno.


A few days ago Netanyahu announced that he would be attending the ceremony following pleas from the victims' families.


Interior Minister Eli Yishai was also on hand despite fears that the victims' families would direct their anger at him, as was the case during a State ceremony in honor of the victims which was held a month after the disaster.


Yishai decided to attend the ceremony following a meeting with Rosen.


President Shimon Peres said Monday "over the past year I have visited the families of the 44 victims. It was an extraordinarily painful and moving experience for me." The president made the comments during a visit to Afula.


Maor Buchnik contributed to the report




פרסום ראשון: 12.19.11, 14:26
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