Interior Minister Eli Yishai announced Monday that he will lobby for a State commission of inquiry to investigate the Carmel Fire.
December 2010's fire, which raged for four days and nights and claimed 44 lives, forced the evacuation of nearly 17,000 people and consumed 8,650 acres of land and natural forest.
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A preliminary report by State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss concluded that Yishai, alongside Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, should be held personally accountable for the devastating blaze. Both promptly announced that they will not resign following Lindenstrauss' findings.
The Carmel Fire (Photo: Israel Police)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had previously urges Yishai against such a move. Sources close to Shas' chairman said that the call for State commission of inquiry signals Yishai's "confidence in his innocence in the matter."
Since the fire, Yishai repeatedly claimed that his office had warned various government bureaus of the dire situation of Israel's Fire and Rescue Services, adding that the funds needed – hundreds of millions of shekels – were conditioned with a comprehensive reform.
"In light of the personal conclusions likely to be included in the report, I feel I was mistaken in my past objection to a State commission of inquiry. It's impossible to reduce years'-worth of past government failures to the 'beheading' of two people," Yishai's petition, presented to the Knesset's State Control Committee by Shas MK Amnon Cohen, said.
"Minister Yishai was one of the few who warned against these failures and he worked to increase the Fire Department's budget," Cohen added.
"The (government) must reconsider forming a State commission of inquiry to investigate the collective failures here," he added.
A Knesset source said Monday that the chances of such a committee to become a reality were slim, adding "it would be like firing the State comptroller."
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