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Heads of Electric Co. Fired For Eilat Storm Break

Two engineering directors fired for remaining in Eilat during snowstorm that left tens of thousands of Israelis without electricity.
By Ari Yashar
First Publish: 12/17/2013, 5:27 PM

Israel Electric Chairman Yiftach Ron-Tal
Israel Electric Chairman Yiftach Ron-Tal
Flash 90

On Tuesday Yiftach Ron-Tal, Chairman of the Israel Electric Company (IEC), apologized to the roughly 60,000 Israelis left without power at the height of the snowstorm over the weekend. Ron-Tal further announced two senior engineers would be fired for sitting out the storm in southern resort town Eilat.

According to Ron-Tal's statement, currently a few hundred customers are still without power, and it will take several months to completely rehabilitate the electric system. The company announced power has been restored to all disconnected communities, although some Jerusalem customers still have no power. These customers are urged to call the IEC service line at telephone number 103 and report the malfunctions.

The two fired engineering directors are Eli Ya'akobi and Yaakov Hai, who incidentally was the head of IEC's engineer's union.

Ya'akobi and Hai were with 200 other IEC employees attending an in-service training program in Eilat when the storm struck. The two were among those who decided to stay in sunny Eilat rather than return to join the emergency efforts.

On Sunday, before being fired, Hai spoke to Channel Two, saying the union heads including himself chose to disobey IEC orders to cancel the Eilat trip in advance of the storm. Hai justified the decision, saying IEC management should have had to pay the cancellation fee for the seminar, roughly a million shekels, adding that the participating engineers were not field workers.

Clearly IEC management did not look favorably on the arguments.

Ron-Tal said of Hai and Ya'akobi, "they don't belong in the company," adding that they were "lawbreakers and disturbers of the peace" that endangered the company's reputation.