Fire victims' families petition for dismissals

Former police cmdr. asks High Court to fire Yishai, Steinitz, other officials over Carmel Forest fire failures.

Carmel Fire 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Nir Elias)
Carmel Fire 311 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Nir Elias)
The father and widower of a woman killed in the December 2010 Carmel Fire, which took the lives of 44 people, submitted a petition to the High Court on Wednesday, calling for the court to order Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to fire Interior Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud).
The petition was submitted two weeks to the day after the State Comptroller’s Office released its report on the Carmel Fire, which found glaring failures in Yishai and Steinitz’s handling of the disaster and their preparation of rescue services for just such a catastrophic event.
The petition also calls on Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich (Yisrael Beytenu) to internalize the report’s findings of the grave operational failures by police, Israel Prisons Service, and fire department commanders under his command, and remove from command those he sees fit.
The petitioners, retired major-general Ze’ev Even-Chen and Police Officer Amit Klein, the father and widower of Topaz Even-Chen Klein, say Netanyahu and Aharonovich “have the obligation to use the power given to them by law and to remove these people from their positions and to draw personal conclusions based on what is written in the Comptroller’s Report.”
The petition adds that the failure to exercise this power would be an “extreme” oversight.
“There is no authority without responsibility, and no responsibility without anyone being held responsible,” the petition reads.
Both Even-Chen and Klein wrote personal letters to Netanyahu and Aharonovich following the disaster, letters which they said were not answered, leaving them no choice but to compile the petition.
The petition includes not only excerpts from the report on Steinitz and Yoshi’s conduct, but also that of a series of police, Prisons Service, and fire department commanders whose performance was slammed by the report. The petition calls for Aharonovich to examine these failures adding that “in the moment of truth, at the moment when their professional and leadership capabilities were put to the most important test of all, the following people, unfortunately, showed leadership that was rife with failure.”
The petitioner’s attorneys write that their clients “are not seeking revenge. They are concerned.
As people who served in the security services for more than a few years, their concern is for the principle of responsibility which has defined the security services since the founding of the state until today.”
Even-Chen took center stage at a social justice protest in front of around 10,000 demonstrators in Tel Aviv last Saturday night. Even- Chen spoke of his plans to submit the petition, and drew connection between the failings detailed in the Comptrollers Report and the claims of failed national leadership made by social justice protestors.
“The disregard for people’s lives is something that must be stopped and you must make this part of your protest. Look what happens: No one is responsible. The finance minister blames the interior minister; the interior minister blames the finance minister; the Finance Ministry says it’s the Prisons Service; they say it’s the police or the firefighters. Everyone says, ‘It wasn’t me, it was him.’ It’s one big kindergarten and the prime minister is in charge of it.”