Yishai will not quit, change post over Carmel Fire

Responding to state comptroller's report, Interior Minister Yishai says he is being unfairly targeted because he is religious.

Burnt trees after the Carmel Fire 311 (R) (photo credit: Reuters)
Burnt trees after the Carmel Fire 311 (R)
(photo credit: Reuters)
Interior Minister Eli Yishai responded Saturday to State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss’s report on the handling of the Carmel fire by rejecting culpability and implying that he was being singled out because he is religious.
Speaking in an interview with Channel 2 news, Yishai said that “over a year and a half before the Carmel disaster I threatened to resign from the government over firefighting services... I demanded NIS 600 million [from the budget]; I received NIS 100 million.”
The Carmel Forest fire of December 2010 claimed the lives of 44 people, among them 37 prison service cadets and their commanding officers, who died when their bus was engulfed by flames.
The fire also caused widespread damage to land and property, totaling million of shekels.
An estimated 1.5 million trees were destroyed in the fire.
Yishai received a copy of the state comptroller’s report along with other senior officials that were audited, including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz.
Lindenstrauss instructed them to file responses to the report, which is titled “The Carmel Fire December 2010 – Omissions, Failures and Conclusions,” within two weeks.
Yishai claimed that he was being singled out because he is religious. “Eli Yishai from Shas is an easy target,” he said, adding that “if there was a [former interior minister Avraham] Poraz or a [former interior minister Meir] Sheetrit in charge things would be different.”
Yishai also said that he is confident that the public sees through the false allegations being made against him. “The public sees the truth and understands that no member of Knesset has ever worked as hard as I have.”
Yishai dismissed demands that he step down from his post for his role in the fire, calling them “not realistic and not serious.” He also said that he would not consider relinquishing his role as interior minister. “The report will not determine my political future,” he said.