At its first meeting yesterday, the new government decided to set up a state commission of inquiry into the Mount Meron disaster in which 45 people were killed during the Lag Ba'omer festivities in April this year. Not all ministers supported the decision. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said, "As we promised, we are raising for approval by the government the proposal of my friends Minister of Defense Benny Gantz and Minister of Finance Avigdor Liberman for a state commission of inquiry into the Mount Meron disaster. Forty-five people lost their lives in the terrible disaster, and the responsibility is on our shoulders to learn the lessons and prevent the next disaster. The commission cannot bring those who perished back to life, but the government can do everything to avoid unnecessary loss of life in the future.
"As we said there will be a state commission of inquiry. Besides that, it is important to state to the worshippers and all who go to Meron: we will do everything to ensure that the tradition of festivities on Lag Ba'omer and throughout the year will continue. People of all stripes go to Meron: haredim, religious Zionists, traditional Jews, Sephardi, Ashkenazi, and secular. Our responsibility is to ensure their safety. That is the government's job, and that is what we shall do."
The state commission of inquiry into the Meron disaster will be formed under the Commissions of Inquiry Law, which means that it will be headed by a judge proposed by the president of the Supreme Court. The commission will investigate the chain of events from the preparations for the festivities to what happened on the night of the disaster itself, when people were crushed to death after one person stumbled in a narrow exit from the site.
The commission of inquiry will have authority to examine conduct at mass religious events and the procedures at such events. It will coordinate with the Israel Police and the Department of Internal Police Investigations, which are themselves carrying out investigations into the disaster, and will submit its report and recommendations to the government. It was agreed that there will be religious representation on the commission.
The government is due to provide NIS 6 million to fund the inquiry.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on June 21, 2021
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