Carmel Fire Victims' Families Plan High Court Petition to Fire Steinitz, Yishai

State Comptroller report says the two ministers bare a 'special responsibility' for the December 2010 Carmel disaster.

Relatives of one of the victims of the Carmel fire said on Thursday that they would submit a petition to the High Court of Justice if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not sack Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Interior Minister Eli Yishai. State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss said in a report issued on Wednesday that these two ministers bore a "special responsibility" for the December 2010 Carmel disaster.

Retired Major General Ze'ev Even-Hen, father of Topaz Even-Hen Klein, and Haim Klein, her widower, demanded Netanyahu fire the ministers, now that the report has been released. If he failed to do so, they would petition the High Court of Justice, the two said in a letter submitted to the prime minister by their attorney, former Public Security Minister Moshe Shahal.

"The 506-page comptroller's report is now before you, exposing a clear and evident systemic failure," the letter says.

"The term 'impotence' describes the ministers' performance in the report, and the impotence requires immediate, resolved and unequivocal action. The findings cannot remain on the paper...A situation in which there is responsibility but no one is responsible is inconceivable," the letter says.

The letter draws an analogy to the Agranat Commission (a national inquiry commission set up to investigate the IDF's failings in the prelude to the 1973 Yom Kippur War ). The commission refrained from making recommendations regarding the political leadership, but mounting public pressure drove then Prime Minister Golda Meir and Defense Minister Moshe Dayan to resign.

Shahal also says the Or Commission, which investigated the clashes between security forces and Arab Israeli rioters in 2000, ruled that then Public Security Minister Shlomo Ben Ami would not remain in office. Ben Ami retired from public life after the ruling.

Meanwhile, relatives of Yochai Shimon Dayan and the families of five other fire victims intend to petition the High Court of Justice to set up a state inquiry commission for the handling of the Carmel fire disaster and to sack Steinitz and Yishai. They are also demanding to fire senior police officers in charge of handling the fire, especially Maj. Gen. Roni Atiya, then commanding officer of the Coastal Region. The State Comptroller found that Atiya, by virtue of his position as area commander, bore full responsibility for events there and noted failures in his functioning in the field.

Yishai's party, Shas, on Thursday increased its attacks on the state comptroller. The party's newspaper Yom Leyom devoted most of its pages to slamming Lindenstrauss and defending Yishai.

Eli Yishai in Carmiel visiting the Dayan family, who lost a son in the Carmel fire, this week.
Yaron Kaminsky