Tributes to 'hero' victim of Carmel forest fire

Israel’s Prime Minister has paid tribute to the selflessness of a firefighter who died in hospital two weeks after he attempted to put out the most devastating forest fire in Israel’s history.

After visiting the parents of Danny Hayat, Benjamin Netanyahu described the family as “strong, united and brave.”

Mr Hayat, 35 and from Afula, was the 44th victim of the Carmel Forest Fires, which began flaring on December 2.

His widow Hofit is nine-months pregnant with their child. At her husband’s funeral she said: “Thank you for the little princess who is in my womb, for the great love I received from you, for the coffee you made for me in the morning.

“I promise you that I will be strong, just like you expected me to. You are my hero."

Mr Netanyahu said he would ask Israel’s Cabinet to give the families of the firefighters who died battling the blaze similar rights as the families of fallen IDF soldiers.

He said: “Despite all the prayers and the efforts, Danny passed away. Our hearts – the Government's and the nation's – are with the Hayat family.

“The nation bows its head in deepest appreciation."

Thousands of mourners attended the funeral.

Last updated: 5:12pm, December 21 2010