Blaze Victims' Families Call for Criminal Investigation of Senior Government Ministers

Nava Farhi-Boker, spouse of Lior who died in the blaze, sent a letter to the prime minister demanding explanations for the failure.

The protest of the families of the dead in the Carmel fire disaster continues. Yesterday the father and father-in-law of one of the victims, Topaz Even-Hen Klein, asked Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to initiate a criminal investigation against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior ministers, for allegedly being responsible for the deaths caused by the blaze in the Carmel area.

fire - Archive: Daniel Bar-On / BauBau - December 14 2010
Archive: Daniel Bar-On / BauBau

Retired Major General Ze'ev Even-Hen, father of Topaz, and Haim Klein filed a request which also asks that the criminal investigation include Interior Minister Eli Yishai, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

"As a result of the recent fire on the Carmel, the lives of 43 people were cut short. Their deaths were not the result of fate but due to severe negligence of the prime minister, interior minister, finance minister and defense minister," Klein and Even-Hen wrote.

In view of the State Comptroller's report, the two bereaved parents argue that there is sufficient evidence to initiate an investigation into criminal negligence that resulted in deaths.

"We do not have clear negligence on the part of the prime Minister, the finance minister, the interior minister and the defense minister, but a closing of eyes and indifference with regard to the possible results due to not allotting sufficient resources," they wrote.

"It should have been clear to the prime minister and the above mentioned ministers that cutting resources would endanger lives, but they apparently gambled that a disaster will not happen - and this is their crime. The decision makers are not entitled to play Russian Roulette with the lives of our children - and if a disaster will occur, which unfortunately has, they must be held accountable, at least so that similar disasters can be prevented."

Nava Farhi-Boker, spouse of Lior who died in the blaze, sent a letter to the prime minister demanding explanations for the failure.

"There are 43 victims in the terrible fire on the Carmel, and you do not come to pay us a visit, you do not come to offer your condolences, you do not send your aides to our homes. No one is giving us explanations for what happened in this failure," she wrote in a letter published yesterday in Yedioth Ahronoth.

But not all the bereaved families are willing to protest in the same way.

"I do not want to sit with my arms crossed and say 'nothing will bring them back.' I am in favor of a public commission of inquiry. As for Even-Hen's request for a criminal investigation, I need to think about it and comprehend the meaning of this," said Olga, widow of Kfir Ohana.

"They [the government] must take responsibility. Enough of these disasters and the shortfalls, of the mistakes that teach us lessons only after a disaster leaves entire families with such an enormous loss," she added.

fire - Archive: Emil Salman / Jini - December 14 2010
Archive: Emil Salman / Jini

Concerning the demand for a criminal investigation, Ophir, whose brother Rami Yisraeli was killed in the fire, said that "our entire family does not think we are there yet. We are not looking to unload our anger on someone, but to live with the pain and the sorrow. We have lost what we had. Even if heads roll, unfortunately we live in a country where the standard attitude is 'things will be alright' - until something happens."