ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 145

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Two firefighters dropped from operational activity after fatal pit rescue attempt

Initial probe finds faults in operation that led to deaths of two firefighters, as well as the 20-year-old they were trying to save, after he fell into a shaft in Deir al-Asad

Police and rescue personnel try to extract two firefighters and another man from a hole into which they fell, in the northern village of Deir al-Asad, August 13, 2023. (screenshot used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law))
Police and rescue personnel try to extract two firefighters and another man from a hole into which they fell, in the northern village of Deir al-Asad, August 13, 2023. (screenshot used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law))

Two firefighters were removed from operational duty on Thursday after an initial internal investigation determined that their misconduct had contributed to the deaths of two firefighters during a failed attempt to rescue a 20-year-old Palestinian laborer who had fallen into a pit in the northern town of Deir al-Asad.

Police are still investigating Sunday’s botched rescue — during which firefighters Dekel Marciano, 33, from Ma’alot-Tarshiha and Adnan Assad, 40, from Beit Jann, along with Samad al-Aramin, 20, from Hebron, were killed — but Israel Fire and Rescue Services chief Eyal Caspi chose to take the initial step of sanctioning the two commanders who led the operation, his office said in a statement.

“Deficiencies in professional functioning emerged from the initial investigation,” the statement said.

Caspi phoned the Marciano and Assad families to express his condolences, inform them of his initial decision and assure them that the Israel Fire and Rescue Services would continue to transparently investigate the incident and implement any changes deemed necessary.

In the coming days, the agency will conduct a refresher training exercise for the northern district’s special rescue unit and later hold a training day for all district and regional fire station commanders, Caspi said.

Marciano and Assad were dispatched to the scene in Deir al-Asad after al-Aramin fell into a pit. While trying to pull al-Aramin out, the two fell inside as well. The three were eventually pulled out by other firefighters at the scene and rushed to a nearby hospital but succumbed to their wounds.

Dr. Khaled Atallah, the head of the Galilee Medical Center emergency room where the three were treated told Hebrew media that the victims had apparently inhaled toxic gas after falling in the pit.

According to police, the Palestinian laborer was in the country illegally.

A resident of Deir al-Asad was arrested Sunday evening on suspicion that he had employed the Palestinian, who did not have legal work papers.

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