Israeli MKs May Face Direct Responsibility for Carmel Disaster in New Report

State Comptroller's final report believed to lay more blame on certain cabinet ministers.

State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss said on Tuesday that his final report on the Carmel fire is expected to be harsher than a draft sent in August to the officials it mentioned in the report.

It is believed that the final report will lay more blame on certain cabinet ministers.

Carmel Fire - Hagai Frid - 29112011
Hagai Frid

The harsher findings are believed in store following the receipt by the State Comptroller's office of additional information about the fire and after hearings held for some police and firefighters, officials in the Prison Service and government ministers.

At this point, the Comptroller's Office is giving some officials about whom the findings are particularly severe the ability to submit further responses.

A judicial official familiar with the details said on Tuesday that in the final report, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Interior Minister Eli Yishai, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonvitch may be charged with direct responsibility. That would go beyond the draft report, which held them responsible only in the framework of their ministerial positions.

The source said that the comptroller knew that the responsibility of the four ministers is not equal, but that "'Direct responsibility,' in some form or another, that the comptroller places on any of those under scrutiny, will be a targeted assassination from a public point of view."

The focus at this point, before completion of the final report, is expected to be on then-chief of the northern police district, Maj. Gen. (ret. ) Shimon Koren, and his successor, Maj. Gen. Roni Atiya, who was then commander of the Coastal District.

The report is expected to highlight the severe lack of coordination between the police and the Prison Service, which resulted in a bus carrying dozens of cadets to proceed on the Beit Oren road, although it was known that the fire had spread to the road. The bus became enveloped in flames, killing 38 cadets.

Atiya apparently heard over the police radio from Koren that the road was closed but did not pass the information on. Reports that the road was dangerous were coming in constantly but Koren did not establish a front-line command post to coordinate firefighting efforts.

The report may not call for disciplinary action against the officers involved, but victims' families may use it to demand such action in a High Court of Justice petition.