Families of Meron Tragedy Victims Sue for Millions in Damages


Police officers seen at the entrance of Meron, ahead of Lag BaOmer, on Sunday. (David Cohen/Flash90)

The families of the 45 victims killed in the Meron tragedy last Lag BaOmer have filed a damages lawsuit against the government, emergency services, and several private organizations that approved the festivities that ended in the tragic death of 45 people and left dozens wounded.

The plaintiffs are demanding NIS 4 million in compensation for each family. The victims included six Americans, two Canadians, an Argentine and a Briton, and ranged in age from 13 to 65.

The fatal tragedy took place after celebrants poured out of one section of the mountainside compound, down a passageway with a sloping metal floor wet with spilled drinks, leading to a staircase continuing down.

Witnesses say that people tripped and slipped near the top of the stairs while those behind, who were unaware of the blockage ahead, continued. This resulted in people being trampled over, crushed and asphyxiated, the investigation into the disaster said.

The lawsuit names the Israel Police, the Public Security, Interior, Religions Services, Economy, and Tourism Ministries, the National Administration for Holy Places, the Israel Fire and Rescue Services, Magen David Adom, and the Merom HaGalil Regional Council, as well as the Ashkenazi and Sephardi religious administrations at Meron, and the two engineering companies who approved the bleachers and ramp on the premises.

The suit was filed just days ahead of the first yahrtzeit of the tragedy, last Lag BaOmer.

The plaintiff’s lawyer, Eran Becker, accused the state of gross negligence, saying that given that the various safety hazards and code violations on the premises were known for a decade, the political power struggle over control of the site resulted in its prolonged neglect and eventually, the tragedy, “which could have been avoided and should have been prevented.”

“To date, there is no clear determination as to who is responsible for safety in these incidents. The state has continued to ignore the dangerous situation, showing indifference to the potentially devastating results. The next disaster is only a matter of time,” he said.

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