The Knesset's Control Committee held a second discussion on the findings of the former state comptroller's report on the Carmel fire on Tuesday. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would not discuss the cadets' bus disaster but did address the fire itself.
Netanyahu said, "There's a fundamental difference between mass fires, such as forest fires, and other fires. We are talking about a very extreme and unusual case for Israel, but not unusual for the rest of the world. There are mass fires in California, Siberia, Canada and Greece. "
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He then addressed a meeting he had with the former Greek Prime Minister in 2010 in which he realized that the way to handle mass fires was by employing extinguishing jets.
Netanyahu at the committee meeting (Photo: GPO)
The prime minister's remarks caused uproar in the room. One victim's relative said, "We don't care about the Carmel fire. We want a comment on the bus disaster. Our kids want answers."
Netanyahu came under fire when former police major-general Zeev Even-Chen, father of Topaz Even-Chen Klein who died in the fire said, "What we want is the truth. It's important for us to know whether what was stated in the report was true or not. We know of people who were dying. Forty-four people, not cockroaches, were killed."
He further added, "I didn’t hear you tell off Eli Yishai or Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz for their statements. I expected Steinitz to apologize to the families. We are sensitive people."
Netanyahu said in response, "I know the how great the pain is. I want to express my appreciation for the families who live with this pain every day."
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz also addressed the committee and explained that the Finance Ministry is not responsible for authorities that answer to other ministries. He noted that during and after the fire the Treasury dealt with the reconstruction of the Carmel communities.
The discussion was originally meant to be held at the prime minister's chambers but was moved to the Knesset building after incoming State Comptroller Yossef Shapira announced he will not attend the meeting as it was "inappropriate" to hold the meeting at the offices of the inspected party.
The prime minister's bureau then issued a statement that said the meeting will be moved to the Knesset in line with the bereaved families' request. Prior to the meeting, Netanyahu met with representatives of
the bereaved families in his chambers.
Noam (Dabul) Dvir, Aviel Magnezi, Moran Azulay, Ron Notkin and Roee Weinberg contributed to this report
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