Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein ruled Monday that there was no reason to open
a criminal case against the country’s leadership for negligent manslaughter of
the 44 people killed in the Carmel fire.
Instead, Weinstein said that he
supports the probe by State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss that is currently
under way, and added that if the report finds a basis for criminal proceedings,
he will reconsider his decision.
Fire victim's relatives urge A-G to probe gov't officials
Hasson calls on PM to launch gov’t probe of Carmel fire
Former police commanders Ze’ev Even-Chen
and Haim Klein, the father and father-in-law of Topaz Even- Chen Klein, one of
the people killed in the fire, had written a letter to Weinstein in which they
argued that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Interior Minister Eli Yishai and
Defense Minister Ehud Barak ignored the potential outcome of neglecting Israel’s
The outcome for the Even- Chen and Klein families was that
28-year-old Topaz, an Israel Prisons Service cadet, burned to death when she and
other IPS reinforcements were trapped in the blaze en route to evacuate the
Netanyahu held a tense three-hour meeting in his Tel Aviv
office with Even-Chen and Klein on Monday. The two had called on Netanyahu to
resign following the tragedy, and Even- Chen had complained that Netanyahu had
never contacted the bereaved family to offer his condolences.
wrote that there was no evidential basis to justify a criminal investigation of
“The correct place for the debate over the question of
responsibility for the tragic event is not in the criminal arena, but in the
public and parliamentary arena,” wrote Weinstein.
alerted the government last week that his original probe into the fire – in
which Netanyahu asked him to offer a professional opinion – would be expanded to
the level of a full state comptroller’s report on the tragedy.
Monday, the Knesset Finance Committee Chairman Moshe Gafni (UTJ) promised that
his committee would “keep a close watch on the progress regarding compensation
for those who suffered in the Carmel blaze.”
During a hearing on
compensation for the fire victims, Deputy State Controller Oshik Ben-Attar said
that the state would act to compensate the victims, but that people who were
irresponsible and did not take out insurance will not get the same levels of
compensation as those who did.
“This is a message that the state wants to
pass on to its citizens, although everybody will receive compensation,”
Israel Bar Association representative Rami Aryeh
said that the state should create a regular formula for compensating victims of
national tragedies, as opposed to local tragedies, in which the question of
whether or not a victim was insured should be a factor.
Aryeh noted that
tax assessors labored intensively following the Second Lebanon War to assess
damages, but complained that the law does not allow similar compensation for