Four million trees, 42 people, a fiasco of a fire response, and four days later, Israel’s State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss released a report yesterday explaining that Israel has a firefighting problem. Shocking! The report was actually already in the works—a follow-up to an apparently ignored 2006 report stating much the same thing—and released early so politicians could use it as a loufa to wash themselves of any blame. (Today in Tablet Magazine, Liel Leibovitz argued that the response to the fire revealed an endemic failure of governance in Israel.)
The report attacked Israel’s firefighting service as the weak link in Israel’s civil emergency forces. It also set the blame squarely on embattled Interior Minister Eli Yishai of the ultra-religious Shas party, as well as on Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
Yishai, for his part, used the report to suggest that the fault lay in “all of Israel’s previous governments” (Ben-Gurion might as well have fertilized the forest with gasoline). He, meanwhile, was the unsung hero of the disaster.
“The media lynched me,” Yishai said. “If there was a non-Haredi minister in the interior ministry, he would be staring in all the media outlets and they would have said to him: ‘How you predicted, how you shouted out.’ Here the situation is opposite.”
Livni Slams PM’s Handling of Fires as ‘Media Act’ [JPost]
State Comptroller Blames Eli Yishai For Collapse of Firefighting Services [Haaretz]
Fire Services Report Shows Israel Unready For War, Again [Haaretz]
Earlier: What Israel Lost in the Fire