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Meron investigation: Police official says politicians wouldn’t limit Meron attendance

CM 22/08/2021

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Northern District Police Superintendent Shimon Lavi told the Mount Meron state commission of inquiry on Sunday that the political class had blocked all attempts by the police to limit attendance on the site surrounding the Lag B’Omer celebrations.
Lavi is the opening witness to testify before the commission which is expected to hear from political, religious, security officials and victims.
On April 30, some 45 men and boys, mostly ultra-Orthodox, died in a mass crush on Mount Meron, the site of the tomb of Talmudic sage Shimon Bar Yohai, where tens of thousands of pilgrims had gathered for the annual Lag Ba’omer celebrations in what was Israel’s worst civilian disaster.

The previous government of former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and various ultra-orthodox parties, who were at least partially involved in demanding unlimited attendance, had refused to establish a state commission of inquiry, which would be free of political interference.
This was in contravention of the wishes of the majority of the families of the victims who argued that only a truly independent panel would be able to find who was responsible for the death of their loved ones and prevent such a disaster in the future.
 Meron investigation committee, August 22. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90) Meron investigation committee, August 22. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)
The new government of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett promptly endorsed a commission of inquiry, and at the end of June, Supreme Court President Esther Hayut appointed a three-member panel to chair the Meron disaster state inquiry.
The commission is chaired by former chief justice Miriam Naor; the other two members will be Rabbi Mordechai Karlitz and IDF Maj.-Gen. (res.) Shlomo Yanai.
At the time, Hayut said that appointment of a state inquiry using this model would ensure the independence of its conclusions from political considerations and restore public faith in the state’s handling of the issue.
A statement said that Naor was picked due to her stature leading the entire judicial branch and her experience handling highly complex matters.
Rabbi Karlitz was selected for having served as mayor of Bnei Brak and having experience in building and design issues, with the Meron events in general and with public policy and the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) community regarding integration in the army.
Yanai was selected due to his expertise in logistical and planning issues, both during his time in the IDF and in the private sector since his retirement from the military.
Hayut cited the tradition that when she announced the inquiry was the 17th of the Hebrew month of Tamuz, is a fast day in memory of when the walls of Jerusalem were broken during the Roman invasion in 70 CE. She expressed hope that this Meron commission would counter that history by restoring some positivity and stability to Israeli society.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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