Meron Investigation Committee Begins Taking Statements

YERUSHALAYIM -
The Meron Disaster Inquiry Committee, in Yerushalayim, on Sunday. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A state inquiry into the deaths of 45 people this past Lag BaOmer in Meron – among them U.S. and Canadian citizens – began hearing testimonies on Sunday to determine what led to Israel’s worst civilian disaster.

Commander of the Northern District Police Superintendant Shimon Lavi was the first witness.

Lavi told the commission that due to the coronavirus outbreak and the March elections, “we had no idea what will happen with the Meron festivities.”

“My understanding was this – without any decision on the national level, if I begin to make immediate arrangements regarding critical infrastructure [at the pilgrimage site], Meron will probably blow up in my face at the last minute.”

Commander of the Northern District Police Superintendant Shimon Lavi arrives to testify before the Meron Disaster Inquiry Committee, in Yerushalayim, Sunday. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Lavi said that only a day prior, officials discovered that there would be no coronavirus-related restrictions at the event, with any measure being “meaningless” unless event organizers decide to uphold them.

The hearings are open to the public and will be streamed online.

If the panel, headed by former Supreme Court chief Miriam Naor, were to find suspicions of criminal conduct it would have to report those to the Attorney General.