Israel orders an investigation into the deadly stampede of Mount Meron Middle East News


The attack in April killed 45 people at a Jewish pilgrimage site that authorities had long considered dangerous.

The new Israeli government has approved an official investigation into a stampede in April that killed 45 people and injured dozens at a Jewish pilgrimage site deemed dangerous by authorities for a long time.

Although it was the worst civilian disaster in the country, a large-scale investigation into the country was conducted Death at Mont Meron it remained under the previous government amid disputes between its ultra-Orthodox Jews and opposition politicians.

“The responsibility to learn the lessons and prevent the next disaster is in our hands,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Sunday at his first cabinet meeting.

“A commission cannot recover those who have perished, but the government can do everything to prevent unnecessary loss of lives in the future.”

A cabinet statement said the findings of the investigation would help safeguard other mass assistance events in Israel, which has sacred sites for Islam and Christianity, as well as for Judaism.

Authorities considered the Mount Meron site dangerous years ago [File: Reuters]

Tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews climbed the tomb of Galilee Hill of the sage Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai from the 2nd century on April 30 for the annual Lag B’Omer festival that includes all-night prayer, mystical songs and dance.

This year’s figures have been lower than in previous years, but still exceed the permits for the curbs of COVID-19.

Some Israelis wondered if the former government led by Benjamin Netanyahu and the police were reluctant to further limit the size of the crowd due to pressure from influential ultra-Orthodox leaders.

During the ceremony, part of the crowd entered a narrow tunnel and the 45 men and boys they were suffocated or trampled.

Police are already conducting an investigation and the Israeli government’s watchdog, which years ago considered the Mount Meron site dangerous, has announced its own investigation, although it cannot file criminal charges.

Netanyahu had promised a thorough investigation, but his cabinet, which included ultra-Orthodox Jewish ministers, never took formal action and heavy hostilities erupted between Israeli and Palestinian groups in Gaza less than two weeks later.

Bennett is himself a religious observer, but his broad coalition does not include any ultra-Orthodox parties. In statements from his cabinet, he said Meron attracts Jews “from all walks of life,” an allusion to denominations other than ultra-Orthodox.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who pushed the investigation, said his findings would carry “heavy weight” and could not be ignored.

The commission of inquiry, headed by a judge, will have a budget of six million shekels ($ 1.8 million), the government said.

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