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Netanyahu, Bennett visit Meron, Ohana rejects calls to probe police

CM 30/04/2021

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Mount Meron on Friday morning as politicians across the political spectrum called for accountability and investigation.Those who were still at the scene protested his visit by yelling and throwing bottles at him, N12 reported. Netanyahu called for Sunday to be a nation-wide day of mourning for the victims. “The tragedy of Mount Meron is among one of the heaviest tragedies that the State of Israel has seen,” Netanyahu said.”There were heartbreaking scenes that came out of here: People crushed to death, including children. Many of the deceased have not yet been identified, and so I ask you to avoid spreading and believing rumors on social media because that rips at the families’ hearts. Let the authorities do their job,” he said. 

“This is one of the hardest events that Israel has ever experienced,” Bennett said. 
“This is a day of national mourning, but also of national unity and mutual responsibility.
“Already from earlier in the night, Israeli Arabs in the town of Tamra launched centers to aid those who were injured in the incident. At this very hour, religious and secular Jews are coming together to donate blood.”

Public Security Minister Amir Ohana deflected criticism of the police, who fall under the mandate of his ministry, for their role in failing to prevent Thursday night’s disaster in Meron.

The police announced that the incident would be probed by its LAHAV Investigations Unit.
“The police, under the command of the Police Inspector-General, are doing the best they can to open the roads and enable the thousands of people who remain on the mountain to return home safely,” Ohana said. 
Ohana made a point of not singling out the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) sectors involved in the disaster, calling on the entire public to follow laws and directives. 
“Unfortunately, many of the dead have yet to be identified, and there are plenty of families who are are still unaware,” Ohana said.
MK Itamar Ben-Gvir (Religious Zionist Party), who was in Meron all night, said the government must immediately form a commission of inquiry to probe what happened in Meron, rather than let the police investigate it themselves.
“This is not yet the time to point fingers until a thorough investigation of those responsible for the worst disaster in the history of the state” is done, Ben-Gvir said. “But one thing must be clear: The police cannot probe themselves. There must be an objective investigation.”
Ben-Gvir praised the police for enabling him to leave the mountain unscathed and helping many others. “Words cannot possibly offer comfort and cannot possibly describe the magnitude of pain caused by the terrible tragedy at Mount Meron,” Defense Minister Benny Gantz tweeted, adding how the IDF has been working extensively with police in helping to save lives at the mountain. “We are wholly committed to investigating the failures, drawing the necessary conclusions and applying them going forward so that this type of tragedy never repeats itself.”Ra’am head Mansour Abbas expressed his “deep sorrow for the victims” and said he was “praying for the speedy recovery of those injured” in a tweet on Friday. 

Former prime minister Ehud Barak wrote on Twitter that “what is necessary is both soul searching and an investigation to ensure that lessons are learned and such a disaster will not be repeated.”
Even Coalition Chairman Miki Zohar, who is close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said “We have an obligation to clarify and understand what really happened there in order to prevent future awful disasters.”Labor MK Omer Bar-Lev called the incident “a colossal failure of the Public Security Ministry and the police.”Ohana’s deputy in the Public Security Ministry, Likud MK Gadi Yevarkan, responded that “of course the incident will be probed properly and in depth and there is no question that will be left unanswered, but this is the time to focus on helping the families of the dead and the wounded.”

Source: Jerusalem Post

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