Eli Yishai: Past Governments Share in Failure of Firefighting Services

State Comptroller report on deterioration of Israel's firefighting services holds interior minister, finance minister and defense minister responsible for service's dire condition.

Interior Minister Eli Yishai embraced Wednesday the conclusions of the State Comptroller report on the deterioration and lack of preparedness of Israel's firefighting and emergency aid services, saying the report showed that he had warned against the condition.

yishai - Hagai Frid - December 4 2010
Hagai Frid

"The report states what I warned against many times before to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz," Yishai said, in a press conference in Jerusalem, and added that '"I can express my opinion, fight and shout, but at the end of the day the finance ministry does not approve and the responsibility is placed on the minister."

"The State comptroller states in the report that it is a continuous failure of all of Israel's previous governments," Yishai said.

State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss placed the bulk of the blame regarding the continuous decline of the firefighting service's capabilities on Yishai, Fiannce Minister Yuval Steinitz and Defense minister Ehud Barak.

"The media lynched me," Yishai said. "If there was a non Haredi minister in the interior ministry, he would be staring in all the media outlets and they would have said to him: 'how you predicted, how you shouted out.' Here the situation is opposite."

In the report, released ahead of its scheduled time due to the devastating Carmel forest fire in which 42 people were killed and more than 17,000 people were evacuated from their homes, Lindenstrauss defined the situation of the fire department as a continuous and serious failure, which could destroy the lives and property of many people and that has not been in such a dire position since the Second Lebanon War.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office issued a statement in response to the State Comptroller's report in which is stated that "the prime minister appreciates the state comptrollers profound probe on the matter of the firefighting services, adopts its conclusions and is obligated to apply them as fast as possible."

New Movement-Meretz MK Nitzan Horowitz responded to the State Comptroller's report  saying the probe proved that "Interior Minister Eli Yishai has to resign."

"If a principle of personal responsibility exists than the Interior Minister, who is respobsible of the Fire Service, must clear his post," Horowitz said, adding that "without personal conclusions this report, like the others which preceded it, would gather dust on the shelf."