Minister Eli Yishai
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Minister Yuval Steinitz
Photo: Alex Kolomoisky, Yedioth Ahronoth
Micha Lindenstrauss
Photo: Noam Moskowitz

Yishai, Steinitz to be held accountable for Carmel fire

State Comptroller slated to single out interior and finance ministers as carrying special responsibility for 2010 fire disaster that left 42 dead

The State Comptroller's final draft report on the Carmel fire disaster is slated to hold Interior Minister Eli Yishai and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz personally accountable for the fire.


The greatest fire in Israel's history broke out in early December 2010 and was eventually put out 82 hours later. Within four hours of the blaze, a bus carrying Prison Service cadets and headed for the Damon Prison was caught in the flames, killing 42 people. More than 10,000 people were evacuated from their homes and 50,000 dunam of land were destroyed.


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Legal sources estimate that State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss will determine that Yishai, who as Interior Minister was responsible for the Fire Services, failed to prepare the forces for emergency events both in terms manpower and equipment.


Lindenstrauss will reportedly reject Yishai's claims that he did everything in his power to bolster the Fire Services.


Steinitz as Finance Minister postponed the allocation of funds for the Fire Services and demanded that a reform be held before any transfer of funds. The State Comptroller is expected to determine that Steinitz should have allocated the budget before making his demands.


The report is slated to place special, personal but indirect responsibility on the two ministers thereby setting new standards for elected officials. Lindenstrauss is stopping short of calling the two to resign.


A senior legal official estimated Sunday that the State Comptroller will let public pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to bring about the ministers' dismissal. Lindenstrauss is also expected to place ministerial responsibility on Netanyahu, Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.


Sources close to the interior minister rejected the State Comptroller's stance on the matter of personal conclusions. "he will not resign after the report is published," they stressed.


Yishai's cronies criticized Lindenstrauss and said: "The comptroller is presenting a new and impossible outline where if a minister's demands are not met the cabinet has to be dissolved. It's an illogical outline."


Steinitz also has no plans to resign when the report is published. "The things published this morning are absurd," said sources close to Steinitz.


"There is no connection between reality and what was written. The Finance ministry transferred NIS 100 million ($26.6 million) to the fire services and they were held up at the Interior Ministry because of bureaucracy in the ministry and the fire services. The allegation that the funds were not transferred is not true and that's a fact."


Attila Somfalvi contributed to the report




פרסום ראשון: 01.29.12, 09:15
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