"Ten year have past and nearly nothing has been done," MK Yoel Hasson said in the opening statement of a special session called by the Knesset Control Committee Tuesday, marking the 10th anniversary of the Versailles wedding hall disaster.
The Versailles disaster took place on May 24, 2001, when the floor of the Versailles wedding hall in Jerusalem gave out from under celebrants' feet, dropping them four stories to the ground. Twenty-three people were killed and more than 350 people were injured in the disaster.
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The subsequent State commission of inquiry, the Zeiler Committee, found that the construction method used in the wedding hall – a light-weight coffered concrete floor systems known as "Pal Kal" – was never sanctioned by any official body, and that it did not meet any of the customary construction or safety criteria.
The Zeiler Committee ordered the immediate inspection, sealing off and possible demolition of dozens of building in which Pal-Kal was used, but according to Hasson, many of the committee's recommendation fell between various bureaucratic cracks.
The Versailles Hall after the collapse (Archives: AP)
"The disaster opened a Pandora's Box relating to construction methods in Israel. It's true that a State commission of inquiry's recommendations are just that – recommendations, but once they have been sanctioned by the government, defaulting on them is dismissive to the government," he said.
He further lamented the "Israeli tradition of not following through on government decisions of this kind."
State Comptroller's Office Director-General Shmuel Golan warned that since the Zeiler recommendations were never fully implemented, "We have no way of knowing whether all the buildings built using Pal-Kal were inspected.
"The entire thing is riddled with indecisiveness and arguments over everything, instead of dealing with the fact that there is a high-risk factor involved here."
According to Golan, one of the main problems the Israeli construction industry faces, is the fact that there is no official body to sanction the technical aspects: "building and planning committees have no way of inspecting the engineering aspects of projects.
In October 2004, the three owners of Versailles wedding hall – Avraham Adi, Uri Nisim, and Efraim Adiv – were convicted of several count of criminal negligence and negligent homicide. In December 2006, Eli Ron – who invented the Kal-Pal system – and three other engineers involved in the building's construction were convicted of the negligent deaths of the disaster's victims.
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