Scene of accident
Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg

Mount Herzl tragedy 'could have been avoided'

Design group official says safety consultant should have evacuated crowd before lighting structure collapsed, killing Second-Lieutenant Hila Bezaleli. Victim's mother: They took my girl away for nothing

Officials at Design Group, the company that constructed the stage on which a heavy lighting fixture collapsed during rehearsals for an Independence Day ceremony on Jerusalem's Mount Herzl Wednesday, blamed the organizers for failing to clear the premises once they noticed the structures were swaying.


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An initial investigation revealed that a cable connecting the lighting fixtures was torn apart, causing them to collapse and drag a concrete cube that weighs a few tons. Second-Lieutenant Hila Bezaleli, a Medical Corps officer at the Jordan Valley Brigade, was killed in the accident. A few other people were injured.


הלווייתה של סגן בצלאלי. באירוע נפצעו 7 חיילים (צילום: אוהד צויגנברג)

Bezaleli's funeral (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)


"A life could have been saved," Evyatar Banyan, the company's vice president, told Ynet. "A production official should have stopped it. We received a phone call from the safety expert, who told us there was a problem. We sent a team, but he should have evacuated everyone from the scene."


'My daughter died for nothing'

Sigalit Bezaleli, Hila's mother, lamented the shoddy work that led to her daughter's death.


"They took my girl away for nothing," she told mourners who arrived at her home on Thursday. "(…) People only care about the money they get, they don't bother doing their job professionally.


"If my daughter would have died during a (military) operation in Jericho, I would have known she died for the country. But these soldiers were put at risk for nothing," she added. "This wasn't the first time, it was a miracle that similar incidents in the past didn't end in tragedy."


Hila's brother, Niv Bezaleli, claimed the accident was result of negligence, adding that his family won't rest until the accountable party is brought to justice.


"All they care about is money, the work doesn’t matter. They say, 'We'll take the cheapest engineer, as long as we make another $1,000.' Everyone should be ashamed.


"The price must be paid, whether by the laborers, the producers, or anyone else," he added, urging the guilty party to take responsibility.


'Lighting company to blame'

The Design Group official hinted that the company responsible for installing the lighting fixtures was to blame. "This tragedy should have been prevented. There was enough time. We dispatched a team, but there is no way of stopping heavy lighting fixtures from falling in such a strong wind. Our team could not have stopped it. The man with the loudspeaker could have evacuated everyone," Banyan told Ynet Thursday. 


"Kilim Light and Sound installed the lighting fixtures professionally and in accordance with the production company's instructions, but I do not know if they were installed according to the original plan." 


Eight people were detained for questioning Wednesday in connection with the accident, and Jerusalem Police set up a special task force to investigate the incident.


On Wednesday Design Group said it adhered to the instructions of engineers and supervisors and did not veer from safety instructions.


"The installation was not built today and has been erected for more than 10 days," the company said.


"It had been checked by safety engineers, passed two examinations and received the necessary permits."


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פרסום ראשון: 04.19.12, 10:15
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