The disaster occurred in the Versailles wedding hall in Jerusalem during a wedding when the dance floor collapsed, causing many of those in the room to plunge to the floor below. 23 people were killed and 250 were injured.
The floors of the hall were built in the Pal-Kal method, a system of building lightweight concrete floors which had been banned before the wedding hall was built as it was proven to be unsafe.
In addition to this, the Versailles hall was designed to be a two-story structure, but a third story was added later on. The story on which the wedding party took place was intended to be a roof, and thus was not designed originally to carry the same load as the other floors.
Victims of the disaster fought a long battle for their compensation. A year ago, a way towards calculating compensation on an individual level was reached and most suits were approved. However, the funds were not transferred due to a disagreement between defendants about each party's share of responsibility for the disaster.
Now, the state has agreed to give out all of the compensation money itself to all 428 plaintiffs. The state plans to be reimbursed by the other defendants later on, including by: The Jerusalem Municipal Authority, the Israel Institute of Technology (Technion), and the Standards Institution of Israel. The state did declare to the court, however, that this act is a courtesy on its part, and does not constitute an admission of guilt.
Asaf Posner and Eti Libman-Offaim of Kimhi, Peled, Posner, Shilo and Co., who are representing the largest group of victims, said, "We welcome the decision to pay damages and we are sorry that the victims had to wait so many years for the state, Jerusalem municipality, Technion and Standards Institution to agree to take responsibility for the physical and emotional damage caused by the disaster. This proposal had already been offered by a Knesset committee in 2002 and could have prevented years of suffering and allowed victims to move on. We hope that if, God forbid, there are other disasters, lessons will have been learned and compensation will be delivered in an appropriate time."
In the years since the disaster, 15 of the injured have passed away. Yaakov Haim, who along with his family were injured in the disaster, said Monday, "I'm very happy to finally see the money, I just hope it actually comes through. People have been suffering for 15 years, and it really is time to put an end to this."
Haim, his wife Ziva and their children were all injured in various degrees. "They got there before me and I arrived a minute before the disaster. I got to the table and all of a sudden everything collapsed and my wife and I fell down. I had fractures in my hand, leg and back. My wife and I were bedridden for an entire year."
According to the compensation outline, whoever wasn’t physically injured will receive NIS 50,000 plus interest, while those more than 20% handicapped with receive NIS 6,000 for every additional percentage of disability. The estates of those killed in the incident will be compensated with NIS 75,000 along with an additional NIS 10,000 for every year of expected decrease in life expectancy. Upon passing of victims, NIS 10,000 plus interest will also be provided for funeral expenses.
The owners of the event hall—Adi Avraham, Efraim Adiv and Uri Nissim— were convicted in 2004 of negligence and wrongful death and sentenced to three and a half years in prison. The Magistrate's Court ruled that after seeing the depression in the dance floor the owners should have consulted with an engineer instead of trying to deal with the problem themselves.