MKs Advance Probe on Meron Tragedy

YERUSHALAYIM -
A man wearing a tallis and tefillin walks near the site where dozens were killed in Meron on Lag BaOmer. (Reuters/Amir Cohen)

A bill that would form a commission of inquiry to probe the Meron disaster advanced in the Knesset Arrangements Committee on Monday by a 19-13 vote.

The vote passed, even after MKs from the right wing tried their best to prevent the vote.

The committee decided to waive the bill’s cooling-off period, enabling it to advance to a first reading in the Knesset plenum already on Wednesday.

United Torah Judaism MK Rabbi Yaakov Asher said that he voted against advancing the bill, because it would advance political interests and postpone the families of the victims receiving the help from the state that they need.

On Sunday, a forum of the families of the Meron disaster victims appealed to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to establish a state commission of inquiry into the deadly crush that killed 45 people, z”l.

The group sent a letter to Netanyahu on the eve of the meeting of the Knesset Arrangements Committee that voted on the issue.

“We want to say in a loud, clear and unequivocal voice that cannot be misinterpreted, all the families as one, that we are demanding an independent state commission of inquiry,” the letter said.

“We are convinced that only a state commission of inquiry can thoroughly and completely investigate this,” it said.

Their only request was that there be a chareidi representative on the committee who would understand the sensitivity of their sector, ideally a representative of the families themselves.

Earlier this month, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced that a joint investigative team from the Israel Police and the Justice Ministry’s Police Internal Investigations Department (PIID) would lead a probe into the incident.

Police and the PIID had already launched independent probes. State Comptroller Matanyahu Engelman has also announced that he will investigate.