Netanyahu heckled, chaos at Carmel fire memorial

By Jennifer Lipman, January 6, 2011
Benjamin Netanyahu

Benjamin Netanyahu

A memorial for the victims of the Carmel forest fire descended into chaos as the crowd shouted at the Israeli Prime Minister, causing his bodyguards to intervene, and forced another government minister to leave the service.

Friends and relatives of the 44 people who died heckled Benjamin Netanyahu as he made a tribute speech at Kibbutz Beit Oren, one of the sites damaged in the blaze.

The crowd raged that they blamed the prime minister for the way in which he coordinated the response to the devastating fire last month.

There were demands for Mr Netanyahu to resign, and one man called out: “We will not rest until we find out the truth.”

Danny Rosen, the partner of one of the victims, Haifa Police Chief Ahuva Tomer, also caused a stir by shouting that the presence of Interior Minister Eli Yishai was “a slap in our face”.

The scene prompted Mr Yishai, whose role covers fire services, to leave the memorial.

Before the incident the Israeli president Shimon Peres addressed mourners.

Mr Peres said: "The fire that did not rest for a moment turned dozens of our families into bereaved, grieving, pained families.

"No tribute and no memorial ceremony will ever return to their loved ones.”

Last updated: 11:26am, January 6 2011