Minister of Interior Eli Yishai had to be escorted out of an official memorial ceremony at Beit Oren Wednesday for the 44 people who died in the Carmel fire disaster. Yishai left, accompanied by Chief Sephardic Rabbi Shlomo Amar, after several family members of the fire's victims loudly interrupted Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu when he got up to speak.
The shouting was led by Danny Rosen, who was the life partner of Brigadier-General Ahuva Tomer, the female commander of Haifa Police who died in the blaze. Rosen, a retired member of Israel's security forces, stood up and singled out Yishai in the loud verbal attack, which he carried out from one of the front rows of chairs that seated the bereaved families. He said that Yishai had no right to be present at the ceremony and demanded that he leave. He then threatened that he and other relatives would leave the ceremony if Yishai did not.
With the numerous bodyguards now at full alert guarding the dignitaries, Rosen continued his shouting and was joined by several other bereaved family members. Prime Minister Netanyahu repeated several times that he "fully understands" the feelings of the families. He paused his speech and Rabbi Amar took the microphone to announce that he would be escorting Yishai out.
One television journalist said that Yishai was very upset by the incident, and that there were reports that he had tears in his eyes.
The ceremony ended and Rosen received air time on all television networks, in which he explained his action. It appeared that his reason for singling out Yishai has something to do with the fact that Yishai is religious. Rosen said that Yishai "just sat there until he was escorted out by the Chief Rabbis," and said: "What happens in the country does not matter to him, he only cares about his Halachic state [a state ruled by Jewish Law - ed.]."
Other bereaved relatives did not necessarily blame Yishai. Some blamed the head of the Israel Prisons Service, others singled out Netanyahu for shooting down an attempt to establish an official governmental committee of inquiry into the blaze, or the Israel Police for not closing off the road on which the victims died. Yet other relatives said that they did not think the outburst was justified, and that they would have preferred to protest at a different venue.