Court Rejects Appeal Against Honoring Officers Killed in Carmel Fire

Decision to grant Medal of Distinction to police officers who perished in fire was challenged by families of Prison Service workers, who say honor should be postponed until probe is completed.

The High Court rejected on Tuesday an appeal by families of Prison Service workers who were killed in the Carmel blaze, who are requesting that Medals of Distinction not be granted until an investigation into the fire is completed.

The families submitted their request a month after the decision was made to grant the Medal of Distinction to Deputy Commander Ahuva Tomer, Deputy Commander Lior Boker and Chief Superintendent Itzik Malina, among others.

Carmel fire bus
Dan Oren

The families' committee, which consists of representatives of 37 of the families of Prison Service cadets that died when a bus they were on got caught in the flames, contends that granting medals at this stage would be like "ripping open their wounds".

"Our hearts are with the petitioners crying out in pain over the heavy disaster that struck them, as it is with the petition's opponents, the families of the officers that perished," the judges wrote in their decision.

The petitioners said that no medals should be distributed until the State Comptroller completed his investigation of the Carmel fire.

"We understand the pain of those who ask for the incident to be fully investigated and that it will, among others, probe the possibility of police responsibility," the judges wrote adding that posthumously granting Medals of Distinction to the families of officials who died in the fire should not prevent an "objective inspection of the failure, if that was the case."

The fallen officers and cadets perished in the massive Carmel forest fire that burned for several days in December 2010, scorching large swaths of land, destroying many homes and killing several dozen people who became trapped in the ferocious flames.