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Report blames Israel's Netanyahu for deadly fire

Wednesday - 6/20/2012, 11:06am  ET

JERUSALEM (AP) - A new report by Israel's government watchdog blames Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior officials for mismanaging the worst fire in the country's history, a devastating blaze that took 44 lives in 2010.

State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss singled out Interior Minister Eli Yishai and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz for blame in managing the crisis, but said Netanyahu was responsible overall.

He described the 500-page report issued Wednesday as "very painful" and accused the government of negligence and of unpreparedness. But he stopped short of calling for the removal of officials.

The fire, which erupted in the country's north, burned millions of trees, consuming houses and a nature reserve as it spread to the outskirts of Haifa, Israel's third-largest city, on the Mediterranean coast.

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