State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss sent the final draft of his detailed
report into the Mount Carmel fire to ministers and senior officials on
He instructed them to file their responses within two
Lindenstrauss also warned once again that his report would “expose
serious failures that require immediate correction.”
comptroller said he had sent copies of the report, which is titled “The Carmel
Fire December 2010 – Omissions, Failures and Conclusions,” to everyone who has
been audited, including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Finance Minister
Yuval Steinitz, Interior Minister Eli Yishai, Public Security Minister Yitzhak
Aharonovitch and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
Steinitz said the draft
report was “delusional and absurd in the most extreme manner.” He and Yishai
have faced heavy criticism for the lack of firefighting resources at the time of
Senior police, Prisons Service, fire services, Home Front
Command and Israel Parks and Nature Authority officials also received a copy of
the draft report, and one has been sent to the attorney-general, Yehuda
Lindenstrauss said that after the State Comptroller’s Office
has received responses from all those audited, he will compile the final report
and release it to the public.
The Mount Carmel forest fire in December
2010 claimed the lives of 44 people, among them 37 Prisons Service cadets and
their commanding officers, who died when their bus was engulfed by
The blaze caused widespread damage to land and property, totaling
million of shekels. An estimated 1.5 million trees were
Thursday’s announcement comes after Lindenstrauss sent an
initial draft of the report to ministers and officials last August.
said his office prepared the final draft after receiving responses from all
those who had been audited in the report. Many of those audited also attended a
hearing at his office, Lindenstrauss said.
The state comptroller said his
report focuses on six key issues: the events of December 2, 2010, the first day
of the fire, from the morning until after the bus tragedy; security services’
preparedness 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 previous governments.
In a statement on
Thursday, Lindenstrauss noted that in his previous reports, including regarding
the Second Lebanon War, his office has “warned repeatedly about the dangers to
the state and its citizens of failures in firefighting.”
full report into the Carmel Fire also comes after he dubbed the Fire and Rescue
Services in a previous report the “weak link” in emergency readiness and said
that ministerial responsibility lay with Interior Minister Yishai.
welcomed the report, because it found no connection between the bus tragedy and
the minister. A spokesman for Yishai claimed the report indicated that he was
the only minister in the last 20 years who tried to help the firefighters and
that he tried dozens of times in the year and a half he was in his post before
the fire to lobby on their behalf.
But the spokesman said the report also
contained many factual errors leading to wrong conclusions. He said Yishai would
work to make sure the mistakes are fixed.
Yishai’s biggest problem with
the report was that it indicated that he should have quit when he did not obtain
the funds he tried to get for the firefighters.
“This would lead to
dangerous instability,” Yishai said. “Having so many resignations of ministers
would harm democracy and lead to chaos in the government.”
newspaper accused Lindenstrauss of ethnic bias. “They chose Yishai because
he is a haredi [ultra-Orthodox] Sephardi,” the newspaper claimed.
the easiest sacrifice.”
In January, Hebrew language press reports said
that in his report, Lindenstrauss may recommend that Yishai and Steinitz be
dismissed from their respective posts. Sources who read leaked copies of the
report said that 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 cabinet.
month, Channel 2 reported that Lindenstrauss told the families of those who died
in the fire that criticism would be “directed at ministers” in the
“The first movers are always the ministers who are at the top of
the pyramid,” he said in a recent meeting with bereaved families, according to a
recording revealed by Channel 2, and cited the Israeli saying, “Blame the guard
at the gate.”
Lindenstrauss warned that whoever refused to carry out his
recommendations would be put “in a very difficult situation” with the public and
would face a disciplinary punishment. “I don’t think they should mess with us,”
Channel 2 reported.
A team of 30 auditors, led by deputy director-general
of the State Comptroller’s Office Boaz Aner, have worked around the clock on the
report, Lindenstrauss’s office said. The report’s length directly correlated
with the “scale of the disaster and its serious consequences” and 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 in August.
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