Just two weeks after former State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss submitted his report on the Carmel fire disaster which claimed the lives of 44 people and destroyed many homes in the area, the residents of the artists' village of Ein Hod have filed a lawsuit estimated at NIS 10.6 million ($2.7 million) against the Interior Ministry, the Finance Ministry, the Internal Security Ministry, the Israel Fire and Rescue Services and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.
The angry people of Ein Hod claim that the State's incompetence has left some of the residents homeless and caused irreparable damage to their belongings, while some of the residents have also suffered mental anguish.
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According to the lawsuit, which was filed by 32 of Ein Hod's residents, the State's incompetence was exemplified in its failed attempts to control the dangerous forest fire in its initial stages.
December 2010's blaze raged for four days and nights and forced the evacuation of nearly 17,000 people and consumed 8,650 acres of land and natural forest.
State failed to take 39 crucial steps (Photo: Adi Sardas)
Ein Hod's residents claim that on the third day of the forest fire, it spread towards the village which is situated just 10 kilometers from where the fire initially erupted. "Due to the fire, the residents of Ein Hod were evicted out of their homes without the ability to prepare for their departure," said the attorney representing Ein Hod's residents.
"When returning to their homes, the residents realized that most or all of their belongings were damaged or destroyed by the fire. Some of them were left without anything, not even a change of clothes," their attorneys said.
Wreckage of the fire (Photo: Activestills)
"Most of the village's residents are artists who own private businesses in Ein Hod or in the nearby area. During the Carmel fire disaster, most of the residents were unable to work and therefore suffered great financial loss," the lawsuit read.
In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs quoted part of the comptroller's 506-page report on the Carmel forest fire disaster in which he addressed the preparedness and conduct of the Fire and Rescue Services, police, Prison Service, the local authorities and the defense establishment.
"The defendants chose to turn a blind eye to the disaster. They neglected their role as protectors of the wellbeing of Israel's citizens," the lawsuit further read.
The lawsuit reveals 39 crucial steps that according to the plaintiffs, the State and the Fire and Rescue services needed to take during the forest fire rage but failed to. "The various authorities charged with dealing with emergency situations such as the Carmel forest fire, were not equipped nor prepared to address that type of disaster," they said.
"The writing was on the wall and the authorities responsible for the disaster chose to ignore it," the lawsuit read.
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