Carmel Fire 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Nir Elias)
The State Comptroller’s Report into the Mount Carmel forest fire, which is set
to be published at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, is expected to focus on ministerial
failures in upgrading the country’s firefighting services.
The report is
expected to place a “special responsibility” on Interior Minister Eli Yishai and
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz for failing to modernize the country’s ailing
firefighting infrastructure before the December 2010 fire.
Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss is also expected to say that Public Security
Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu should bear
“general responsibility” for the failures that led to the disaster.
police, firefighting services and Prisons Service are also expected to come
under heavy criticism.
The fire, the worst in Israel’s history, claimed
the lives of 44 people, among them 37 Prisons Service cadets and their
commanding officers, who died when their bus was engulfed by flames. The bus was
traveling to the Damon Prison to evacuate prisoners. Three police officers and
three firefighters were also killed.
The fire also caused widespread
damage to land and property, totaling million of shekels. An estimated 1.5
million trees were destroyed in the fire.
Lindenstrauss has repeatedly
warned that the audit will expose serious failures that require immediate
Earlier this year, Lindenstrauss said the report will focus
on six key issues: the events of the first day of the fire, from the morning
until after the bus tragedy; the preparedness of security services for emergency
situations; prevention of forest fires; the firefighting services; local
government and Interior Ministry preparedness for fires and their functioning
during the fire; and failures of those ministers responsible, including in
In March, Lindenstrauss’s office sent copies of the
report, titled “The Carmel Fire December 2010 – Omissions, Failures and
Conclusions,” to all audited parties, including Steinitz, Yishai, Netanyahu,
Aharonovitch and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
Lindenstrauss’s full report
into the fire also comes after the state comptroller – in a previous report –
dubbed Israel’s Fire and Rescue Services the “weak link” in emergency readiness
and said that ministerial responsibility lay with Yishai.
Hebrew language press reports said that Lindenstrauss may recommend that Yishai
and Steinitz be dismissed from their respective posts.
Sources who read
leaked copies of Wednesday’s report said the state comptroller is not expected
to call for Yishai and Steinitz to resign, but may recommend they be transferred
to different government positions, so that they may remain in the
Also in January, Channel 2 reported that Lindenstrauss told the
families of those who died in the fire that criticism would be “directed at
ministers” in the report.
The report’s length is directly correlated to
the “scale of the disaster and its serious consequences” and that it reveals “a
long series of blunders and failures, the tragic outcome of which is that the
fatal fire in the Carmel – which took a toll of unprecedented magnitude – was
not avoided,” the State Comptroller’s Office said last year.
A team of 30
auditors, led by the State Comptroller’s Office deputy director-general Boaz
Aner, have worked around the clock on the report, Lindenstrauss’s office has