Burnt trees after the Carmel Fire 311 (R).
(photo credit: Reuters)
Bereaved families from the 2010 Carmel Forest Disaster speaking at a press
conference in the Knesset on Monday said that they place sole responsibility for
the deaths of their family members on the operational command of the police and
Forty-four people were killed in the forest fire,
including 37 Prisons Service cadets and their commanding officers, who died when
their bus was caught in the blaze.
The fire also caused widespread
damage, totaling millions of shekels, to land and property. An estimated 1.5
million trees were destroyed.
The families met earlier with Minister of
Interior Eli Yishai, saying that they felt a need to say that he was not
responsible for the deaths of their relatives.
It was reported in January
that the State Comptroller’s investigation into the disaster would hold Yishai
and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz accountable.
“Those responsible are
the people who gave the orders and managed the events on the ground on the day
of the disaster,” said Najib Sarchan, father of Misher Ias Sarchan, who was
killed on the bus that was trapped in the fire.
“Every sensible person in
the country knows that it was not those sitting in their offices in Jerusalem
who ordered the bus to drive into an inferno tens of meters high,” he
“Even if the [Fire Department] would have had all the equipment in
the world, helicopters or fire engines, it would not have been able to save even
one of the cadets on the bus,” Sarchan said. “Therefore, the responsibility lies
on the professional ranks which managed the incident in the few hours from the
time the bus left until the time all of us heard the bitter
“Forty-four people were killed in the disaster, they were the salt
of the earth. The pain and despair which now accompanies us, the bereaved
families will be with us all our lives. Our worlds have been destroyed because
after loosing a member of your family it is impossible to move on,” he
The families denied that Yishai was exploiting them for political
purposes, and reiterated that they had declared themselves politically neutral
at a conference they held earlier this month. They emphasized, however, that
they were referring specifically to the deaths of those on the bus and not the
destruction of the forest.
The State Comptroller’s Office sent the final
draft of its report on the disaster to government ministers and officials last
Thursday, who have been given three weeks to respond.