עשרות בני אדם נפגעו בדוחק הכבד באחד ממתחמי ההדלקה במתחם ההילולה בהר מירון
Rescue workers embrace at the scene of the stampede on Mount Meron in which 45 people died
Photo: Moshe Mizrahi
Rescue workers embrace at the scene of the stampede on Mount Meron in which 45 people died

'We will not be silenced': Families of Mount Meron victims find strength in unity

Relatives of some of the 45 people who perished in a Lag B'Omer stampede last month say the state has abandoned them to fend for themselves, warn some Haredi politicians are trying to limit the scope of the probe into the disaster

Chen Artzi Sror |
Published: 05.27.21 , 21:23
A month has passed since the Mount Meron disaster in which 45 people lost their lives in a stampede at a Lag B'Omer festivity, and Israel has yet to set up any investigation or official commission of inquiry to find those responsible for the country's worst civilian tragedy.
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  • The families who lost loved ones in the stampede, which is believed to have been caused by poor planning combined with the ramshackle state of the complex, say they have been left to fend for themselves by a government that has all but abandoned them.
    8 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 at the scene of the stampede on Mount Meron in which 45 people died
    (Photo: Moshe Mizrahi)
    For the past month, the bereaved families watched the political echelon - including the leaders of the Haredi parties who claim to represent the sector to which all the victims belonged - effectively torpedo all attempts to establish an official commission of inquiry.
    "We know this is a huge oversight," says Boaz Strakovski, whose eldest son, 20-year-old Yaakov, was killed in the disaster.
    8 צפייה בגלריה
    בועז סטרוקובסקי, אביו של יעקב סטרוקובסקי ז"ל
    בועז סטרוקובסקי, אביו של יעקב סטרוקובסקי ז"ל
    Boaz Strakovski
    (Photo: Dana Kopel)
    “I could never have imagined a scenario in which the great State of Israel would do nothing about the disaster for a whole month. Then there are the ultra-Orthodox parties, who I was sure would do everything in their power to see justice done,” Strakovski said.
    “After all, it is not just in our interests to learn the lessons and to establish an independent committee; it is in the interest of every citizen.”
    8 צפייה בגלריה
    יעקב סטרוקובסקי שנהרג באסון מירון
    יעקב סטרוקובסקי שנהרג באסון מירון
    Yaakov Strakovski
    Sigalit Hevroni, whose 27-year-old son Yonatan died on the mountain leaving a widow and three little girls, also describes a feeling of helplessness.
    "The families’ wish for an official commission of inquiry stems from their desire to see Mount Meron regulated, so that the Lag B'Omer celebrations can continue in a safe manner, and that such a thing will never happen again,” she said.
    8 צפייה בגלריה
    סיגלית חברוני (משמאל), אמו של יהונתן חברוני ז"ל, ואחותו אורטל
    סיגלית חברוני (משמאל), אמו של יהונתן חברוני ז"ל, ואחותו אורטל
    Sigalit and Ortal Hevroni
    (Photo: Haim Hornstein)
    Ortal Hevroni, Yonatan's sister, said: “In our country, such disasters happen in very specific sectors. Such gatherings only take place among the ultra-Orthodox and the Arabs, because the police have given up on them. This is a blatant violation of people’s security.”
    8 צפייה בגלריה
    מקום הנפילה בו קרה האסון בהר מירון
    מקום הנפילה בו קרה האסון בהר מירון
    The personal possessions of the victims lie on the ground following the disaster at Mount Meron in April
    (Photo: Reuters)
    Tzira Deutsch, the aunt of 16-year-old Eliahu Cohen who also lost his life in the disaster, said: “Our goal is to simply prevent the next disaster.
    "My brother, Eli’s father, keeps telling me: ‘Tzira, I can hear Eli screaming, and I know that's what he would want us to do.’ And yet, he can’t do anything, we're all just completely helpless.”
    8 צפייה בגלריה
    סיגלית חברוני ובנה יהונתן, שנספה באסון מירון
    סיגלית חברוני ובנה יהונתן, שנספה באסון מירון
    Sigalit and her son Yonatan
    (Photo: Courtesy)
    Israel Diskind, brother of 23-year-old victim Simcha Bonim Diskind, says the families decided to band together to face the state’s opacity.
    “When we saw no one was doing anything, we realized that we had to organize together," he said.
    "We will meet together to hurt, to mourn, but most of all to act,” added Diskind, who also lashed out at the government's inaction.
    8 צפייה בגלריה
    ישראל דיסקינד, אחיו של שמחה בונים דיסקינד ז"ל
    ישראל דיסקינד, אחיו של שמחה בונים דיסקינד ז"ל
    Israel Diskind
    (Photo: Amit Shabi)
    “It seems as though someone is trying to cover up for someone else. How is it that no one will face justice? There are certain MKs who are trying to cover up what happened, and we are here to say out loud that we will not let that happen,” he said.
    According to Diskind, no one offered his or any of the other bereaved families any assistance after the disaster.
    “Who was supposed to notify families of the loss? Who has stayed in touch with them? Who takes care of them? They have been left completely alone," he said.
    "That is why we realized it was imperative for us to organize together. Some wheeler dealers are even trying to divide the families. It's terrible.”
    8 צפייה בגלריה
    שמחה בונים דיסקינד ז"ל
    שמחה בונים דיסקינד ז"ל
    Simcha Bonim Diskind died in the Mount Meron disaster
    (Photo: Natan Lazri)
    Diskind said he had no expectations of the Haredi politicians, and therefore was not disappointed by their conduct.
    “I am, however, disappointed that it has become a debate of right and left. To me, anyone who tries to muddy the issue out of political motives is complicit in the next disaster,” he said.
    “We are at war on many fronts: We contend with loss, with mental difficulties, economic hardship and the demand for justice. But mostly we are at war with those who want to tear us apart," he said.
    "That is why I am asking the public to pressure [the government], not to take Meron off the agenda. Not to give up on a country that has given up on us. We seek comfort, not revenge."
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