Carmel fire victims laid to rest across the country

8 funerals held; some bodies being held at forensic institute awaiting identification; families being hosted in the North.

December 3, 2010 16:04
3 minute read.
Mourners gather around the grave of Eran Weizel

Eran Weizel funeral 311 AP. (photo credit: Associated Press)


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Forty-two people were killed in the giant blaze near the Carmel Mountains that started on Thursday. Thirty-six of the victims were prison guards on their way to Damon prison, and were killed when the fast-moving fire engulfed their bus.

As of Friday evening, only 18 of the victims’ bodies were identified. Many were so badly burned that emergency services were using DNA and dental records to identify the bodies, forcing the families to wait to hold the funerals until positive identifications could be made. Forty of the bodies were held at the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute awaiting identification. Families of the victims were being hosted by families in the north.

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Eight funerals were held on Friday afternoon. Cmdr Eli Gabizon, head of the Southern District of prison guards, who 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 guards on the bus were part of a new officer’s course that started this year, which received specialized training in order to improve prisoner treatment and become directors in the prison system. The course started on October 17 of this year and was supposed to conclude next March.

“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 added.

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 it 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, who also worked with prison services. Pereg was the father of two.

Hundreds gathered in Yavne on Friday to bid farewell to Maor Ganon, 27, another prison service officer.

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.

Ganon was enrolled in an officers course with the Prisons Service when his life was cut short. His loved ones said it was his dream to serve his country as an officer of the Shabas.

Ganon leaves behind his wife, Sivan, and three-year-old daughter Hila.

Topaz Even Hen Klein was scheduled to be laid to rest at 12:00 PM at the military cemetary in Rehovot. Beber Shabi was scheduled to be laid to rest at 12:00 PM in Kfar Jat. Kfir Ohana was scheduled to be laid to rest at 12:00 PM at the military cemetery in Ofakim. Tzagi Sium wass scheduled to be laid to rest at 11:30 AM at the military cemetery in Netivot. Meir Ganon was scheduled to be laid to rest at 12:00 PM at the military cemetery in Yavne. Yakir Suisa was scheduled to be laid to rest at 12:00 PM at the military cemetery in Dimona. Oshrat Pinto was scheduled to be laid to rest at 12:00 at the military cemetery in Safed. Hagi Giorno was scheduled to be laid to rest at 11:30 AM at the milityary cemetery in Kiryat Gat. A'adel Tafesh was scheduled to be laid to rest at 12:00 PM in Beit Jean. Eran Wiesel was scheduled to be laid to rest at 12:00 PM in Haifa. staff contributed to this report

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