Bus in Carmel fire 311.
(photo credit: Channel 10)
Dragging the recriminations that have followed last month’s Carmel fire to new
depths, some Shas Party members, including MK Nissim Ze’ev, implied on Thursday
that Haifa Police chief Ahuva Tomer, who died in the blaze, bore greater
responsibility than Shas’s Interior Minister Eli Yishai for the deaths of the
prison guards whose bus was caught in the inferno.
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The Shas Party members
told various media outlets that the blame for the deaths of the blaze’s 44
victims lay primarily with those who allowed the Prisons Service bus to climb
the hill where it became stuck and was engulfed in flames.
Ze’ev, who did
not refer to Tomer by name, told Ynet that “the address is the person who
brought the bus into the range of the fire,” by allowing it along the route
toward Kibbutz Beit Oren and Damon prison. All the fire’s victims died either in
the bus or, like Tomer, trying to save those trapped at the scene.
Shas criticism of Tomer – from which others in the party quickly dissociated
themselves – came soon after her partner, Danny Rozen, told Israel Radio that he
would sue Yishai for his role in the tragedy.
“Eli Yishai has to pay,”
Rozen said. “I will do whatever I can so he pays out of his own
At Wednesday’s state ceremony to honor the victims of the fire,
Rozen demanded that Yishai leave the event.
“This man has no shame,” he
declared. “Either he leaves or I leave.”
Yishai, who did leave, said on
Thursday, “In spite of the sad, unnecessary events of last night, I’m reminded
of the edict, ‘He who is wise, will be silent at this point in time.’” Tomer
died in Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center days after suffering burns over her entire
body while attempting to rescue those trapped in the bus.
shouldn’t have spoken at such a ceremony,” Rozen said on Thursday, “but I
couldn’t watch Yishai walk into the hall, when the state comptroller said he was
personally and ministerially responsible [for the fire]. I think he shouldn’t be
allowed to sit with the mourning families and hug people.”
He added, “I
felt that Yishai not only lacked respect for us, but for all citizens of
Everyone who read the state comptroller’s report knows that this
man can’t continue behaving as he has up until now.”
Rozen explained that
he had not planned to make a scene, and that the invitation to the ceremony had
not indicated that Yishai would be there.
“The invitation said the prime
minister, [President Shimon] Peres, the Knesset speaker – people I respect –
would be at the ceremony. Yishai forced himself into the ceremony, with his lack
of shame,” he said.
“He didn’t care,” Rozen went on. “Even when I said,
‘Sir, get out of here,’ he didn’t leave until the chief rabbis told him to. It’s
absurd that 44 mourning families don’t influence him, but when the rabbis tell
him, he leaves. It’s an embarrassment to the State of Israel that a man like
this is in our government.”
Shas spokesman Ro’i Lahmanovitch issued a
statement clarifying that those members of the party who had leveled blame at
Tomer were representing their own opinions and not those of the
Shas MK David Azoulay said earlier on Thursday that Yishai did not
intend to resign following the protest by Rozen and other bereaved family
members. In an interview with Army Radio, Azoulay said that “he came to console
the families [at the ceremony], and he did not expect such a harsh
“When I heard about what happened to Yishai, I was
On the one hand, I understand the pain of the families who are
grieving, but on the other hand, it hurt me to see the shame and pain they
caused the leader of the [Shas] party,” Azoulay said.
“The general public
knows that Eli Yishai is one of many ministers who worked so hard for the
Channel 2 reported on Thursday night that
security for Yishai had been increased.
Meanwhile, the family of Elad
Riven, the 16-year-old volunteer firefighter killed in the Carmel fire, visited
Shas mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef together with Yishai on Thursday.
was scheduled to bring more of the bereaved families to visit Yosef in the