Rescue workers embrace after 45 people died in a stampede on Mount Meron in April

Gantz pushes for Meron disaster probe rejected by previous government

Coalition agreement says that government will approve state commission into tragedy that claimed 45 lives at April Lag B'Omer celebration; families of mainly Haredi victims had demanded inquiry that was rebuffed by ultra-Orthodox lawmakers in Netanyahu coalition

Yoav Zitun, Moran Azulay |
Published: 06.14.21, 15:28
Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Monday sent the Cabinet Secretariat a proposal for the creation of a state commission of inquiry into a stampede at a Lag B'Omer celebration in April in which 45 people were killed and some 150 others injured.
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  • The previous government had refused to approve an investigation into the events on Mount Meron during the predominantly ultra-Orthodox celebration, claiming that an internal probe by the Religious Affairs Ministry would be sufficient.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    עשרות בני אדם נפגעו בדוחק הכבד באחד ממתחמי ההדלקה במתחם ההילולה בהר מירון
    עשרות בני אדם נפגעו בדוחק הכבד באחד ממתחמי ההדלקה במתחם ההילולה בהר מירון
    Rescue workers embrace after 45 people died in a stampede on Mount Meron in April
    (Photo: Moshe Mizrahi)
    Gantz’ proposal calls for the government to establish a state commission with full authority to investigate the stampede that is believed to have occurred due to poor planning at the event.
    The coalition agreement stipulates that the new government, which was sworn in on Sunday, will approve the commission.
    "This is a moral debt we owe to the families [of the victims]," said Gantz on Monday. "It is equally important to investigate the incident in order to avoid a repeat of such tragic events."
    The commission was demanded by the victims' families, who less than a month after the disaster sent a letter to then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, requesting an independent probe headed by a Supreme Court justice.
    "We believe only such an inquiry will be able to conduct a thorough search for the truth," the families wrote.
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    אסון מירון
    אסון מירון
    Rescue teams aid victims of the stampede at the Lag B'Omer event on Mount Meron
    (Photo: AFP)
    The Knesset Arrangements Committee had been set to vote on a proposal for a state commission, in a motion tabled by Yesh Atid at the end of May.
    But the ultra-Orthodox legislators in the previous government said they preferred a panel of inquiry with less authority and a more limited probe.
    The members of that investigation would have been appointed by Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, the leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party.
    The Interior Ministry and Religious Affairs Ministry, both formerly headed by Shas ministers, were responsible for the administration of the site in particular during the annual Lag B'Omer celebrations.
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    ההרוגים באסון
    ההרוגים באסון
    The 45 victims of the Mount Meron disaster
    The stampede, seen as Israel's worst civilian disaster, occurred when tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox worshipers began leaving the Toldos Aharon compound at Mount Meron after the event.
    The stampede occurred when people tried to leave via a single narrow exit at the compound. The first people heading to the exit are believed to have fallen on the slippery floor and been crushed by those who followed after.
    Israel Police later came under fire for allowing the event to go ahead despite overcrowding.
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