Ben-Dror Yemini
Ben-Dror Yemini
Ynet
Rescue workers from the United Hatzalah volunteer service trying to treat the injured during the Meron disaster

Israel cannot play the blame game over Meron disaster

Opinion: Previous commissions of inquiry have involved trial-like tribunals where witnesses testified with lawyers by their side fearing self-incrimination; what we need now is the truth about the chain of events so such tragedy does not happen again

Ben-Dror Yemini |
Published: 05.02.21 , 23:45
It is hardly surprising that it did not take long to hear the calls for a commission of inquiry into the events leading to Thursday's disaster on Mount Meron. As if this were the solution to every problem.
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  • But such commissions cannot be the answer; in fact many that were appointed to investigate past events provided no solutions and only made things worse.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    Rescue workers from the United Hatzalah volunteer service trying to treat the injured during the Meron disaster
    Rescue workers from the United Hatzalah volunteer service trying to treat the injured during the Meron disaster
    Rescue workers from the United Hatzalah volunteer service trying to treat the injured during the Meron disaster
    (Photo: United Hatzalah)
    The calls for a commission of inquiry are welcoming a witch hunt. There are always senior members of the judiciary at the head of the commissions, yet a judge is a professional assigner of blame.
    People summoned to testify at such commissions arrive armed with lawyers to provide them with a defense during a process aimed at finding those culpable.
    Even when such commissions release practical recommendations, they are rarely adopted or put into action, and the public interest largely lies with whose heads will roll.
    The tragedy last week, which resulted in the deaths of 45 children and adults, must be take a new investigative approach, using a panel of experts who understand the complexities of large public events.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    דגל בחצי התורן
    דגל בחצי התורן
    The Israeli flag is lowered at the Western Wall on Sunday, as the country marks a national day of mourning for the victims of the Meron disaster
    (Photo: EPA)
    We must understand the decision-making process by the police that blocked the already narrow exit from the Toldos Aharon compound.
    If political pressure was indeed put on police and other local authorities to allow such a large crowd to attend, was this the cause of the disaster?
    We must hear the truth from witnesses who will testify without fearing they could incriminate themselves. These witnesses must not be placed into a trial-like setting, for the aim of the investigation must be to repair inadequacies and not assign blame.
    After the 2000 riots in the Arab sector resulted in the deaths of 13 demonstrators, a commission of inquiry into the handling of the protests was set up under Supreme Court Justice Theodor Or. Can anyone remember what the recommendations that followed were?
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    חומות העיר העתיקה בירושלים מוארים בדגל ישראל
    חומות העיר העתיקה בירושלים מוארים בדגל ישראל
    The walls of the Old City of Jerusalem are lit up in memory of the victims of the Meron disaster
    (Photo: EPA)
    Even the inquiry into IDF failings before the 1973 Yom Kippur War, which placed the blame on then-IDF chief of staff David Elazar, would have ruled differently today now that more information has come to light.
    Have any commissions made any difference, or is their creation merely Israel's knee-jerk response to every disaster?
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    מקום הנפילה בו קרה האסון בהר מירון
    מקום הנפילה בו קרה האסון בהר מירון
    Personal affects left behind by victims of the disaster on Mount Meron
    (Photo: Moshe Mizrahi)
    We need the situation on Mount Meron, with its building violations, narrow passageways and overcrowding, to be rectified before there is further tragedy.
    That must be the focus.
    It cannot be a manhunt to satisfy our desire to blame someone for these terrible events.
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