Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced Thursday that a joint team from the police and the Justice Ministry’s Police Internal Investigations Department will investigate last week's deadly stampede on Mount Meron.
The stampede that broke out at the Lag BaOmer festivities on the mountain last Friday claimed the lives of 45 worshippers, including 10 children, in what is now Israel's biggest civilian disaster.
Mandelblit’s announcement comes as the Police Internal Investigations Department is preparing to investigate junior and senior officers from the Northern District on their conduct during the festivities.
It is believed that Mandelblit waited a week to make the announcement in order to see if the government plans to establish a commission of inquiry to probe the disaster.
“The two teams will work in a collaborative and coordinated manner for the purpose of investigating the incident, while ensuring certain checks and balances are maintained in order to keep the investigative independence of each body,” said Mandelblt, who added that the investigations will be assisted by Deputy State Prosecutor Shlomo Lemberger.
"Any question that arises regarding the joint activity will be brought to the decision of senior professionals in the State Attorney's Office,” added Mandelblit.
"It is difficult to overstate the severity of the disaster that occurred on Mount Meron, and therefore everything possible must be done to discover the truth through an effective and efficient investigation."
On Monday, Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai told Mandelblit he intends to demand a state commission of inquiry (which can investigate even the highest political echelons) into the disaster.
Mandelblit, who held a similar opinion, said that setting up such a committee during a transitional government is not an issue.
The Police Internal Investigations Department already laid the groundwork for their inquiry that will include summoning and questioning of senior officials.