Rivlin Lauds Unity in Wake of Meron Disaster

A view of the Arab town of Tamra, where residents came out to offer food and drink to people returning home from Meron after the disaster.

President Reuven Rivlin lauded the unity shown by Israelis in the wake of the tragedy at Meron, during the 2021 Yerushalayim Unity Prize ceremony at Beit HaNasi on Monday.

“Just a few days ago, we saw that the unity and partnership of Israeli society are not a one-off. When the dreadful news of the terrible disaster on Har Meron came out, we saw a tremendous effort from the Israeli public.

“We saw people standing in line to donate blood for the casualties. We saw people from Arab villages close by to the place of the tragedy setting up refreshment stations for those who had got out and for the families who had come to search for their loved ones. We saw the people of the Tel Aviv neighborhoods around Abu Kabir bringing food and cold drinks to the families who were waiting, with heavy hearts, to identify their loved ones who had lost their lives in the shocking tragedy.

“At the end of the day, and however hard it is for us to remember it, we are better than they tell us, more united than the election campaigns try to suggest. We are more committed to each other than this or that person with an ax to grind would have it. At the moment of truth, we are one human fabric,” Rivlin said.

The prize was awarded for the seventh year, as a joint initiative of the Yerushalayim municipality, the Gesher organization and the families of Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Shaer and Naftali Frenkel Hy”d, together with the Ministry of Social Equality. Mayor of Yerushalayim Moshe Lion also participated in the event.

At the beginning of his remarks, the president spoke to the parents of the three boys, Racheli and Avi, Iris and Uri, Bat-Galim and Ofir, who initiated the prize in memory of their sons who were killed in a terrorist attack in 2015, saying:

“In the hardest times, when we were all anxiously awaiting news of the fate of the boys, you were a source of strength and consolation for us. The self-restraint you showed gave us confidence and belief. Unfortunately, when we found out their fate, and when the worst of all possible news came, our hearts were broken. The whole people was shrouded in grief and even then, you found the strength to reach out a hand of support and comfort.”

Representative of the parents of the boys, Racheli Frankel, mother of Naftali Frenkel said: “Over the past three days, with all the pain, the sorrow, the frustration and the anger, we also saw – as the president and others recalled – people standing in line for hours to give blood. Hundreds of families opening their homes to host people stuck in the north. Towns like Tamra opening refreshment and communications stations for the families of those rescued from Meron. Towns and kibbutzim cancelling Lag Ba’Omer celebrations that were planned with great investment. There is no end to the ways people and therapists are organizing, just looking for a way to help, where they can reach out and ensure that they are there for the long-run. We all appreciate and respect that.”

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