Families of Carmel Fire Victims Boycott Official Memorial Ceremony

At an alternative ceremony, families expressed fury that 21 months after the tragedy, none of the officials found responsible by Israel's state comptroller have resigned or even admitted wrongdoing.

Families who lost loved ones in the December 2010 Carmel Forest fire boycotted Sunday's Israel Prison Service ceremony in memory of employees who fell in the line of duty and held an alternative ceremony instead.

The official ceremony took place in Ramle, while the fire victims' families met in the Carmel Forest, at the monument memorializing the tragedy that took the lives of 44 people. Among the dead were 37 Israel Prison Service cadets who were incinerated when the bus transporting them to evacuate a prison went up in flames.

Family members at the alternative ceremony expressed fury that 21 months after the tragedy, none of the ministers or police or prison service officers who were found responsible by the state comptroller had resigned or even admitted wrongdoing.

The ceremony was the initiative of David Dayan, whose son Yochai was killed on the bus. He boycotted the official ceremony to protest the fact that prison service commanders and officers who were involved in sending out the ill-fated bus had been promoted. One example is Deputy Israel Prison Service Commissioner Micky Halfon, who was commander of the prison service's northern district at the time of the blaze, and recently led a prison service delegation to Poland.

"It's hard for us to see these officers still serving and even getting promoted," said Ze'ev Even Hen, whose daughter, Topaz, also died on the bus.

He blamed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for this general shirking of responsibility, noting that he never conducted a single cabinet debate on the State Comptroller's Report on the Carmel fire.