JERUSALEM (Dec. 11)
Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin promised today that soldiers will no longer be housed in flammable prefabricated barracks such as the one destroyed by fire early Monday morning in which eight soldiers died and seven were injured. There are thousands such barracks in army camps all over Israel.
Rabin, who visited the scene, an artillery corps camp in the Samaria district of the West Bank, said this was one of the lessons learned from the tragedy. The dead were buried yesterday. Five of the injured soldiers have been discharged from the hospital. One remains in the intensive care unit.
Eighty-four soldiers were asleep in the barracks, built of wood and synthetic materials, when the blaze broke out at I a.m. Monday and swept through the structure in minutes. Most managed to escape. Heat prevented rescuers from entering the barracks until later in the morning when the remains of the eight dead soldiers were found. The Defense Ministry has named a special team to investigate the disaster. It will report to Chief of Staff. Gen. Moshe Levy.
CLAIMS TRAGEDY WAS DIVINE RETRIBUTION
Meanwhile, anger was generated in the Knesset today when a member of the Orthodox Shas Party contended that the tragedy was divine retribution for the lack of religous observance in Israel. A similar explanation was given for the deaths of two dozen high school children in a train-bus collision earlier this year by Shas leader Rabbi Yitzhak Peretz, the Minister of Interior.