Probe says Israel PM bears ‘responsibility’ for deadly 2021 stampede

Probe says Israel PM bears ‘responsibility’ for deadly 2021 stampede
Probe says Israel PM bears ‘responsibility’ for deadly 2021 stampede

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - The inquiry found that from 2008 up to the day of the tragedy, the prime minister’s office was notified on several occasions of the potential hazards caused by high traffic around the tomb. Netanyahu was in power for 12 of those years. — Reuters pic

JERUSALEM, March 6 — A probe into Israel’s worst civilian disaster today found Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “bears personal responsibility” for the deadly 2021 stampede which killed 45 Jewish pilgrims.

“The prime minister is responsible for identifying proactively, by himself or through mechanisms on his behalf, issues that require the attention of his office and, if necessary, his intervention, in particular those related to a risk of human lives,” said the commission of inquiry report into the stampede at the Mount Meron pilgrimage site.

Tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews had converged on Mount Meron, near Israel’s border with Lebanon, on April 30, 2021 for an annual pilgrimage to the tomb of reputed second century rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.

The stampede in the male section of the gender-segregated crowd is believed to have started as people moved through a narrow passageway that became a deadly choke-point.

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At least 16 children and teenagers were among the 45 dead.

The inquiry found that from 2008 up to the day of the tragedy, the prime minister’s office was notified on several occasions of the potential hazards caused by high traffic around the tomb. Netanyahu was in power for 12 of those years.

“Netanyahu knew that the Rashbi’s tomb site had been poorly cared for for years, and that this could create a risk for the multitudes of visitors to the place, especially in (the holiday of) Lag Ba’omer,” the commission’s report said.

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“Netanyahu did not act as expected of a prime minister to correct this state of affairs,” it added. — AFP

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