Gov't delays decision on recognition for firefighters

Yishai had pushed for cabinet to include the firefighters with a last-minute vote, but was told that there would be no vote.

By REBECCA ANNA STOIL
May 9, 2011 02:31
2 minute read.
PM Netanyahu meeting with firefighters in North

311_Netanyahu with firefighters. (photo credit: GPO)

As the families of tens of thousands of fallen soldiers, security force members and terror victims gather to commemorate their loved ones, three families will remain in limbo after the cabinet decided on Sunday to delay a decision regarding the status of the three firefighters killed in December’s Mount Carmel forest fire.

Forty-four people were killed in the blaze, and 41 of them – police officers and prison guards – will be officially included in Remembrance Day ceremonies.

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Interior Minister Eli Yishai had pushed for the cabinet to include the firefighters with a last-minute vote during its weekly meeting, but was told on Sunday morning that there would be no vote because the figure directly responsible for the issue – Defense Minister Ehud Barak – opposed the proposal.

Barak’s position was supported by Yad Lebanim, the preeminent organization representing the bereaved families of soldiers and security force members.

“The government was right when it examined all of the considerations and decided to act with the appropriate sensitivity and wisdom,” the Yad Lebanim leadership said in a statement issued Sunday. “Our hearts are with the firefighters’ families, but a moral decision of this type must be examined thoroughly and not hastily.”

Yishai said the firefighters should be offered special recognition not afforded to other firefighters because “the Carmel fire was a national event.”

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced that a ministerial team would be formed under the leadership of Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman to examine whether or not they should be included in future Remembrance Day events. Netanyahu said Neeman’s team will “properly provide for the commemoration of the fallen” by submitting draft legislation within 60 days.

“This is a sensitive and painful issue that requires serious, responsible and legal comment,” the prime minister stated.

“I would like to commemorate the fallen in an appropriate manner that will honor their sacrifice.”

In the weeks after the blaze, the cabinet decided to grant special status to the victims’ families and provide them with the same rights given to the families of fallen soldiers and security force members.

“Those who fell in the unique Carmel wildfire disaster – including three heroic firefighters who gave their lives to save others – have recently joined the ranks of the fallen,” Netanyahu said. “Danny Chait, Uri Semandayev and youth volunteer Elad Riven, may their memories be blessed, stormed into the blaze like fighters defending the lives of others.”


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