Families of Carmel fire officers get medals of distinction

Police chief hands out honors during controversial J'lem ceremony, while families of prison guards that died protest decision.

April 6, 2011 20:10
1 minute read.
Remains of bus burned in Carmel fire

Bus in Carmel fire 311. (photo credit: Channel 10)

The three police officers killed in the Carmel forest on Wednesday received their posthumous medals of distinction in a ceremony at the Jerusalem International Convention Center. Earlier in the day, family members of Prisons Service employees, who also died in the fire, held a protest asking to postpone the awards ceremony until after the state comptroller completes the investigation into the events.

During the ceremony, Israel Police Insp.-Gen. Dudi Cohen handed medals of distinction to the families of three police officers, Asst.- Cmdr. Ahuva Tomer, Asst.-Cmdr. Lior Boker and Ch.-Supt. Itzik Malina for bravery in the line of duty.

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Tomer's partner, Danny Rosen, said after receiving the award: "With much sorrow and pain, I also have great pride to receive the honor."

In a case that Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch on Tuesday described as “one of the most difficult to ever come before the court,” the judges ruled that Cohen’s decision to grant medals of distinction to the police officers was legal and within his authority.

“Our hearts go out to the petitioners who are crying out in pain because of the disaster they experience – as well as to the respondents [and] the families of the officers who perished,” wrote Beinisch.

The petition was filed Monday against the Police Commissioner and the Minister of Internal Security on behalf of the families of the 37 prison services workers who died after their bus was engulfed by flames.

It states that giving medals to the police officers – who may have been responsible for the death of their loved ones – was unbearable to the families, and that it was preferable to postpone the ceremony until after a full investigation of the fire, and the failures surrounding its handling, was completed.

Ron Friedman contributed to this report.

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