Deflecting criticism over a harsh report on the 2010 Carmel Forest fire, State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss said Wednesday that the yet-to-be-released document reflects "a very harsh reality."
In the report, which is expected to be released at 4 pm Wednesday, Lindenstrauss purportedly holds Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Interior Minister Eli Yishai primarily responsible for the devastating results of the fire. The document was submitted to Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin earlier in the day.
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Senior officials in the Finance Ministry branded the report as "bizarre."
"The report reflects a very harsh reality," Lindenstrauss countered. "(…) this report is not bizarre. This report, which has been compiled by the most qualified experts, is realistic… and thorough."
He noted that the report is one of the harshest reviews released by his office over the past seven years. The incidents described within "should have been prevented ahead of time by the central government," he added.
Call for urgent action
The 506-page review addresses the preparedness and conduct of the Fire and Rescue Services, police, Prison Service, the local authorities and the defense establishment.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch are also expected to be held accountable for the incident.
The state comptroller called for the immediate implementation of his recommendations, saying that the failures that led to the worst fire in Israel's history cannot be ignored.
December 2010's blaze 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.
Government sources said that Netanyahu is expected to back the ministers criticized in the report. Coalition officials believe that the review won't cause major changes within Netanyahu's government due to the fact that the comptroller does not have the authority to fire ministers.
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