Widower of Carmel Fire Victim: Israel's Security Abandoned by Netanyahu Government

Husband of Ahuva Tomer tells Knesset panel debate on Israel's firefighting services that the prime minister has put off making decisions on the matter.

Israel's security has been abandoned by a failing cabinet, the husband of the late Haifa police chief Ahuva Tomer told a meeting of the Knesset State Control Committee on Monday, during a discussion on a report by the state comptroller about Israel's fire service.

Tomer and 43 others were killed in a massive fire that swept across a large area of the Carmel last year, leading to calls for a dramatic overhaul of the fire service.

Danni Rosen - Tomer Appelbaum
Tomer Appelbaum

Addressing the discussion, also attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, Danny Rosen said Israel is not safe in the hands of its current cabinet.

"The security of the State of Israel has been abandoned in the hands of the four sons - the failing [Interior Minister] Eli Yishai, the evasive [Finance Minister] Yuval Steinitz, the disconnected [Defense Minister] Ehud Barak and the prime minister, who puts off decisions to a later date."

Netanyahu met ahead of the debate with relatives of the victims of the blaze, despite concerns in the Prime Minister's Office that such a meeting would be used to politically target the prime minister.

Speaking before the panel, the premier said that he had asked to meet with all the families, but did not know why not all of them had attended.

"I told the families that attended that the word rehabilitation was misleading since a real rehabilitation was impossible. To be a member of a bereaved family is to be disabled without any visible scars," Netanyahu said.

Addressing the families, the prime minister said that both he and they knew that there was no real solution for "whatever you feel inside," adding that the "real purpose of the discussion was to see what can be done so that such a disaster would not befall others."

Referring to the preparedness of Israel's firefighting service in wake of the Carmel fire, Netanyahu said that the service was "lacking as it stands right now, and does not give what I estimate to be a response to the issues which we encountered in the Carmel fires."

"The main issue there is aerial firefighting," the premier said, adding that efforts to form an airborne firefighting force had begun as soon as the Carmel fires had been extinguished, citing attempts to buy such aircraft from a Canadian company.

It wasn't until Sunday that Netanyahu announced his intention to attend the discussion, even though many relatives of Carmel forest fire victims were to be present.

The decision to attend went against the recommendation of Netanyahu's aides, who feared the chairman of the State Control Committee, Kadima MK Yoel Hasson, was planning to use the bereaved families to attack the prime minister. Netanyahu had said he would not attend under such circumstances.