Of the 41 people killed in the giant blaze that began in the Carmel Mountain
Range on Thursday, 36 were guards on their way to Damun Penitentiary to help
with its evacuation, and were killed when the fast-moving fire engulfed their
bus in flames.
The guards were participating in a new officers’ training
course that started this year, which received specialized training in order to
improve prisoner treatment and become directors in the prison system.
map of fires raging in Carmel
Heroism, resilience... and gnawing questions
thanks Erdogan for airplanes to battle Carmel
course started on October 17 and was supposed to conclude in March 2011. The
students were expected to be the next generation of leaders in the prison
Eight funerals were held on Friday afternoon. Cmdr. Eli
Gabizon, commander of the Southern District prison guards, was in charge of 13
of the guards on the bus tried to attend as many funerals as possible on Friday.
“We were like a family and they were all my children, it’s really hard,” Gabizon
told Israel Radio.
“But we will grow from this. It’s a strong
organization, and it will support us. But we’ve taken a huge blow today and it’s
so painful “The families ask hard questions. But they know this was their
work, and we had to do it. Many times I went to a family to comfort them
and it ended up that the families were comforting me,” Gabizon
Family and friends remembered their loved ones as they tried to
grapple with the senseless tragedy.
“We couldn’t have expected this,
we’re still trying to understand it and believe it,” a family friend of Hagai
Zolo, 28, from Kiryat Gat, told the media on Friday.
“He always did the best for
everyone,” she added.
“We heard on the news that there was a bus of
guards that was on fire, and we called and called and called him, but he didn’t
answer,” said the brother of Ronen Pereg, 34. Pereg, also killed, was the father
Hundreds gathered in Yavne on Friday to bid farewell to Maor
Ganon, 27, another Prison Service cadet.
Haim Furman, a friend of Ganon
who was at the funeral, described it as a send-off fitting a hero, with a 21-gun
salute and representatives from the Prisons Service and Israeli rescue services
coming to pay their respects.
Furman said friends and relatives described
Ganon as “the rock of his family, the sibling who can always be counted on.”
Furman added that family described him as “ambitious, determined, and focused”
and asked time and again, who will they count on now to do the things that Ganon
could always be depended on to do.
His loved ones said it was his dream
to serve his country as an officer of the Prison Service.
behind his wife, Sivan, and three-year-old daughter, Hila.
night, forensics experts had identified all of the 41 victims. Many of the
victims were so badly burned that experts had to use dental records and DNA to
identify the victims. Forty of the bodies were held at the Abu Kabir Forensic
Institute while awaiting identification. Families of the victims were being
hosted by families in the North.
Among the victims of the fire were
Ch.-Supt. Yitzhak Melina, 46, and the Northern District’s Operations Branch
manager Asst.-Cmdr. Lior Boker, 57, from Pardess Hanna, and firefighter Uri
Semande’ev, 27, from Migdal Ha’emek.
Prison services identified the
victims on the bus: Rami Israeli from Eilat, 33, married with two children;
Dimitry Koslov, 45, of Beersheba, married with a child; Vladislav Rahamimov, 30,
of Beersheba; Wassim Abu Rish, 28, from Yarka, married and a father of two;
Topaz Even Chen Klein, 28, from Rehovot; Beber Shabi, 35, from Kfar Jat, married
and a father of one; Kfir Ohana, 30, from Ofakim, married and a father of one;
Siyum Tzagi, 31, Netivot, married and a father of three; Yakir Swissa, 26, from
Dimona; Oshrat Pinto, 26, from Safed; Hagai Jorno, 28, from Kiryat Gat; Adel
Tafesh, 33, from Beit Jan; Eran Weisel, 31, from Kiryat Bialik; Yaron Barmi, 21,
from Mabu’im, married and a father of a two-year-old girl, his wife is four
months pregnant; Shimon Dayan, 28, from Carmiel, married; Dimitry Gerstein, 27,
from Tel Aviv; Hagai Panker, 31, from Yeruham; Tania Lansky, 23, from Ashkelon;
Ayala Yifrah, 23, from Eilat; Kiryl Derman, 28, from Afula; and Adel Tafesh, 33,
from Beit Jan, married and father of two; Aviram Levy, 28, from Afula, married
and a father of one; Morris Levy, 32, from Tiberias; Hanen Ohayun, 31, from
Nazareth Illit, married and a father of two; Ayas Najib Sarhan, 30, from Kfar
Mrar, married and a father of one; Inbal Amoyal, 26, from Dimona; Ayala
Langerman, 31, from Nahariya, married; Avi Noah, 34, from Jerusalem, married and
a father of two; Ronen Peretz, 34, from Ashkelon, married and a father of two;
Deputy Warden Rafi Alkalai, 44, from Lapid, married and a father of five; Deputy
Warden Fabiola Bohadna, 48, from Ness Ziona, a mother of two; Warden Uriel
Malka, 32, from Karnei Shomron; David Navon, 48, from Ness Ziona, the driver of
the bus; Elad Riven, 16, from Haifa, a volunteer firefighter.Ben
Hartman, Yaakov Lappin, and Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.