Carmel Fire: Haifa Police Chief Critically Injured

Minutes after being interviewed, Deputy Commander Ahuva Tomer drove behind the bus of prison guards that caught fire.

Head of the Haifa Police Department, Deputy Commander Ahuva Tomer was critically injured on Thursday as a result of the huge brushfire in the Carmel region.

Tomer was driving behind the bus full of prison guards that burned up in the flames. Two more police officers were declared missing on Thursday.

tomer - Tomer Neuberg - December 2 2010
Tomer Neuberg

Deputy Commander Tomer was taken to Carmel Hospital in Haifa, where a team of 20 doctors worked a great length to revive her, finally succeeding in restoring a pulse – "against all odds," in their words.

Police Commander Dudi Cohen arrived at the tactical headquarters that was temporarily established at Haifa University and informed reporters that Tomer's condition stabilized and that she had been transferred to Rambam Hospital for continued medical treatment.

Cohen said that there were still two police officers whose whereabouts were unknown, and that the police have already established a commission to determine the causes of the tragic fire.

Just before she was injured, Tomer spoke about the fire in an interview to Israel Radio. "We're talking about a large fire that spread because of strong winds. The winds are blowing in the direction of the sea, therefore we are not worried for the villages of Isfiya and Daliat al-Carmel."

Deputy Commander Tomer is considered to be one of the best-known and highest-ranking officers in the northern region. She made history in 1997 when she was appointed police commander in Nahariya, and again in 2009 when she was appointed commander of the Haifa station, the largest in Israel.

Tomer is highly respected by her fellow officers and is known for maintaining good relations with the media. Officers that have worked with her describe her as dedicated and professional, and that although she advanced the case of women in the police force, she never used her own status as a woman as political leverage.

At the end of the 1990s, when she served as the commander of the Nahariya Police, a complaint was lodged against her, which led to criminal charges against her and her partner, on suspicion of fraud.

After six years of legal battles, Tomer was cleared of all charges. At that time, the court criticized Internal Affairs for a shoddy investigation, saying that investigators got excited over the opportunity to charge a high-ranking officer with a crime.

After she was cleared of all charges, Tomer was given a position suited to her rank, Commander of Operations in the Israel's northern region, before she was offered the top job with Haifa Police in March 2009.