A day before the publication of a State Comptroller report that is expected to hold Shas Chairman Eli Yishai responsible for some of the failures that led to the deadly Carmel forest fire in 2010, the religious party has released a YouTube video in a preemptive move to deflect some of the criticism.
December's Carmel fire, which raged for four days and nights, 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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'My cadets burned alive'
The clip, titled 'The Carmel disaster – new facts, what really happened," does not reveal any new information on the blaze, but it does include a few statements by former Supreme Court Judge Eliyahu Winograd, who was paid to defend Interior Minister Yishai.
The video also contains testimonies from eyewitnesses, all of whom defend the Shas leader.
Brushfires in Victoria, Australia
Shas even recruited some of the victims' relatives, who claim Yishai should not be held accountable for the tragedy.
The video also contains images from the deadly brushfires that burned across the Australian state of Victoria two years ago. The video distributed by Shas claims it took the Australians weeks to extinguish the flames despite having a first-rate fire department, which is "three times larger than Israel's."
The video says Yishai fought more than any other minister to bolster Israel's Fire Services. In the clip, Winograd says Yishai "has done more than any minister before him" to improve Israel's Fire and Rescue Services.
"It was a terrible tragedy, but it had nothing to do with the level of preparedness or lack thereof," the retired judge says in the video.
In the video, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz is quoted as saying that Yishai "fought for the Fire Services," while Labor Chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich is quoted as saying that the Shas leader is being unjustly persecuted.
Yishai himself is seen reading for a document which purportedly proves he had requested former Prime Ministers Ariel Sharon and all the premiers who followed him to bolster the Fire Services.
In the report, State Comptroller Lindenstrauss is expected to determine that Interior Minister Yishai and Finance Minister Steinitz bear "special responsibility" for the outcome of the fire.
The comptroller is also expected to determine that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch bear "general responsibility" for the outcome of the blaze, and that the cabinet as a whole is collectively responsible for the disaster.
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