A month after the devastating fire in the Carmel region, a special symposium took place on Wednesday at the Lander Institute - Jerusalem Academic Center. The evening was held in memory of Deputy Warden Rafi Alkalai, who was the deputy commander of the Israel Prison Service cadet course whose members were caught in the fire. Alkalai’s sister is an employee of Lander Institute.
One of the evening’s speakers was Lander Institute Vice President Major General (res.) Yaakov Amidror. Amidror, a former commander of the IDF's National Defense College and the IDF Staff and Command College and former head of the IDF's Research and Assessment Division, addressed the many voices who have called on Israel to purchase an aircraft fleet in order to be able to combat future disasters in a quicker period of time.
According to Amidror, however, the solution may not necessarily be to purchase an aircraft such as the Supertanker. “The State of Israel must not make decisions on the basis of this difficult event,” he said. “It is very important not to get caught in easy solutions. It should be remembered that any decision on what to spend money is also a decision on what not to spend money. Maybe the solution is not a Supertanker, but rather 50 fire trucks that can go anywhere at any time.”
Danny Alkalai, Rafi's brother, spoke on behalf of the family and described Rafi as an educator. “Rafi saw in his work in the prison a social mission and passed on this feeling to his students. He respected his subordinate guards. Rafi was an educator at heart.”
Also on Wednesday, Minister of Interior Eli Yishai had to be escorted out of an official memorial ceremony at Beit Oren for the 44 people who died in the Carmel fire disaster. Yishai left after several family members of the victims loudly interrupted Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu when he got up to speak.
The shouting was led by Danny Rosen, the life partner of Brigadier-General Ahuva Tomer, the female commander of Haifa Police who died in the blaze. Rosen stood up and singled out Yishai in the loud verbal attack, saying that Yishai had no right to be present at the ceremony and threatening that he and other relatives would leave the ceremony if Yishai did not.