The Israeli State Comptroller’s final draft report on the Carmel fire disaster is slated to hold Interior Minister Eli Yishai and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz personally accountable for the fire.
The greatest fire in Israel’s history broke out in early December 2010 and was eventually put out 82 hours later. Within four hours of the blaze, a bus carrying Prison Service cadets and headed for the Damon Prison was caught in the flames, killing 42 people. More than 10,000 people were evacuated from their homes and 50,000 dunam of land were destroyed.
Legal sources estimate that State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss will determine that Yishai, who as Interior Minister was responsible for the Fire Services, failed to prepare the forces for emergency events both in terms manpower and equipment.
Lindenstrauss will reportedly reject Yishai’s claims that he did everything in his power to bolster the Fire Services.
Steinitz as Finance Minister postponed the allocation of funds for the Fire Services and demanded that a reform be held before any transfer of funds. The State Comptroller is expected to determine that Steinitz should have allocated the budget before making his demands.
The report is slated to place special, personal but indirect responsibility on the two ministers thereby setting new standards for elected officials. Lindenstrauss is stopping short of calling the two to resign.
A senior legal official estimated Sunday that the State Comptroller will let public pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to bring about the ministers’ dismissal. Lindenstrauss is also expected to place ministerial responsibility on Netanyahu, Internal Security Minister Yitzchak Aharonovitch and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.