The Carmel Fire / Nobody Will Resign, Nobody Will Be Fired

None of the government ministers will take responsibility and the comptroller's report will quickly disappear into the black hole that sucks up all the thick tomes his office produces.

Let's not hold our breath. No minister is going to resign and no one will be fired. No minister will admit blame, take responsibility or draw personal conclusions. They will not even take a good, hard look at themselves.

The same is true of the prime minister, who was dealt a mortal blow twice in one week (a world record, obviously) as he was chastised for poor performance.

And so, the state comptroller's report on the 2010 Carmel fire will quickly disappear into the black hole that sucks in all the thick tomes the state comptroller occasionally produces. The report before this one dealt with the mishandling of the 2010 naval raid on the flotilla to Gaza. In both cases, warnings went unheeded, and life goes on.

In Israel, disasters come from a divine source; successes are all the work of human agents. State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss, in his report published yesterday, placed the responsibility for the mishandling of the Carmel fire on Interior Minister Eli Yishai and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz. Yishai said in response - during a high-profile, somewhat cynical visit to the home of one of the families who lost a loved one in the fire - that he will demand a cabinet discussion. That is exactly the problem with him: For the many years he served as interior minister, he frequently demanded discussions, wrote letters, shouted and warned. For this, he was awarded at least 30 positive remarks in Lindenstrauss' report.

So is it any surprise that Yishai is having trouble living with the report's conclusion regarding his own responsibility? He is sure he deserves a medal. If we were to wax sarcastic, we might say that he sees himself worthy of lighting a torch in the Independence Day ceremony.

Steinitz also doesn't understand what the comptroller wants from him. Since when is a finance minister responsible for the failures of other ministries? Since when is a finance minister supposed to grant every request? In the past few months, ever since Steinitz discovered he was included in the comptroller's draft report, he has made sure, at every opportunity, to call the report "bizarre."

Beyond the personal aspects of the ordeal, which naturally attract attention, the report tells the story of shoddiness. One more time: shoddiness. Everyone knew that our fire and rescue service was more suitable to a 19th-century town, but no one really did much. The report reads like tragedy whose end is inevitable. And yet, it is heartrending. Forty-four people lost their lives needlessly because they were somewhere they should not have been.

The comptroller determined that under no circumstances should Yishai and Steinitz be blamed for the deaths of the Prison Service cadets, the police and the firefighters. That is cold comfort from their point of view - no more.