Relatives of Carmel Fire Victims: Our Sons Must Not Have Died in Vain

Family members of cadets who perished in the Carmel fire demonstrate outside Ayalon Prison, as Prisons Service conducts graduation ceremony for surviving members of the course.

Angry relatives of police cadets who lost their lives in the Carmel fire last month staged a demonstration outside the Ayalon Prison on Thursday, demanding that the government establish a panel of inquiry into the devastating blaze.

The rally took place as the Prison Service was due to hold a graduation ceremony for officers in the same course that lost most of its cadets in the Carmel fire, when their bus was engulfed in flames. A total of 44 people were killed in the blaze.

The cadet's course began with 49 cadets, 35 of whom perished in the bus on the first day of the fire, along with two of the course's staff members, on their way to help evacuate a prison in the Carmel.

The Prison Service scaled back the event in light of the disaster and did not invite the media and the graduates' family members to the ceremony at the Ramle prison compound, to the anger of the relatives

"The blood of our sons must not have been spilled be in vain." the demonstrators shouted on Thursday, "Set up a panel of inquiry now!"

"The truth is being kept from us," said Einav Barmi, who lost her husband Yaron. "We want the government to create panel of inquiry, otherwise we will never truly know the sequence of events."

"I will do anything I can to know what to say to my daughter, to tell her why her father was burned [to death]. They are only telling us lies," she added.

Amram Biton, father of the late Roey Biton, decried the lack of investigation "a disgrace".

"We are all so uncertain," said Biton. "There is no one to tell us why it happened."

Biton told reporters that the timing of the demonstration, on the same day as the graduation ceremony, was "entirely coincidental".

"If they had told us when the ceremony was, we would have known, but they didn't even make the effort to tell us when it was and they certainly didn't invite us," he said.

Despite widespread anger among families of the victims, some relatives agreed with the decision to hold the ceremony without the families. Others, like Amit Klein, who lost his wife Topaz Even Chen Klein, said: "I don't like the decision but respect it. In a way I thought Topaz can't make it, at least I could be there for her," he said.

Carmel fire (Dan Amir)
Dan Amir