Meron Catastrophe: Kotel Rabbi blames number of teams

2021-08-23 21:29:52

Shmuel Rabinowitz, rabbi of the Western Wall and the Holy Websites, pointed the finger at a wide range of events for the Mount Meron catastrophe to keep away from any private blame, whereas testifying on Monday earlier than the State Fee of Inquiry.

Rabinowitz, himself a haredi rabbi, repeatedly accused extremist haredim of varied sects of destabilizing and endangering guests to the positioning, in addition to the police and the Justice Ministry for insufficiently creating order.

The senior rabbi, who engaged in a mixture of religious feedback, gentle humor and solemnity concerning the tragedy, did get push-back from the fee members, who embrace Fee Chair and former Supreme Courtroom president Miriam Naor, Rabbi Mordechai Karelitz, and IDF Maj.-Gen. (res.) Shlomo Yanai.

Yanai particularly took Rabinowitz to process, saying that he couldn’t keep away from blame after having served in an oversight function of Mount Meron for 13 years, even when the basis causes of the catastrophe would possibly stem from different officers.

Given the passage of 13 years, the previous IDF major-general mentioned, Rabinowitz wanted to have both taken motion to get the positioning and the occasions at Meron to a degree the place they have been secure, or to resign and make manner for somebody new who would possibly do higher.

Rabinowitz responded saying that between the time he grew to become the chief of a committee of 5 non secular officers liable for sure non secular facets and non secular constructing infrastructure in 2008 and 2011, he succeeded at making main modifications.

He mentioned that regardless of how poor the infrastructure, structure and questions of safety have been now, the present setup was “gold” in contrast with how horrid it had been earlier than 2008.

Rabinowitz additionally testified that extremist haredi sects had harassed him, even protesting exterior his home and requiring him to acquire bodyguards anytime he tried to enhance or change the established order at Meron.

In accordance with the rabbi, these extremists have been in opposition to any sort of change, believing that modifications may upset different uncharted burial grounds and in any other case disturb the positioning’s mystical standing.

He mentioned that due to the extremists who opposed his involvement, he not often visited the positioning, and even when he did, he did so shortly and beneath heavy guard to keep away from friction.

Furthermore, if anybody had ever informed him he and his committee would turn out to be liable for working the Lag Ba’omer occasion, he mentioned that he would have instantly resigned.
 Meron investigation committee, August 22. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)
Meron investigation committee, August 22. (credit score: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)

Fee members mentioned that whereas Rabinowitz may disclaim accountability for the precise occasion, he couldn’t keep away from accountability for the dilapidated situation of sure bridges and infrastructure linked to non secular buildings.

Rabinowitz answered that he has no experience in such points, and that the engineers his committee employed had assured him there have been no issues. He additionally accused the police of not having management of holiday makers, and mentioned that even the police headquarters on the positioning itself was inbuilt an unsafe or unlawful method.

Rabinowitz mentioned that by the point the catastrophe occurred he had already visited and left the positioning a while earlier than, and famous that he took the catastrophe personally, along with his nephew being caught up within the tragedy.

Alon Asur, who served as Northern District police commander from 2016-2019, testified subsequent about why he had not ordered a restrict within the variety of guests who may come to Meron throughout Lag Ba’omer.

Asur mentioned two points led him to conclude that there was no level in attempting to make such a push.

First, he mentioned that the authorized institution had not outlined to what extent the police may restrain freedom of motion and freedom of faith in favor of public security surrounding the positioning.

Second, he mentioned that setting any quantity would have been theoretical because the structure of the positioning would have made it bodily inconceivable to stop extremely dedicated guests from arriving from across the nation.

This might have been the case except there was wall-to-wall political assist and momentum for utterly remodeling the positioning, one thing which he mentioned didn’t exist, definitely not till this previous spring’s catastrophe.

Asur mentioned a neighborhood official had informed him that the police had tried to restrict the variety of attendees round 2008, and that their efforts had failed miserably.

Pressed on whether or not there may very well be interim options to restrict or sluggish the advance of attendees, he defined that there have been some methods, comparable to having site visitors officers cease buses as they converged on the world, however even this was at most a short lived reprieve he mentioned.

The catastrophe occurred on April 30, when 45 males and boys, principally haredi, died in a mass crush on the positioning of the tomb of Talmudic sage Shimon Bar Yochai, the place tens of hundreds of pilgrims had gathered for the annual Lag Ba’omer celebration in what was Israel’s worst civilian catastrophe.

The investigating committee was fashioned in late June after the brand new authorities of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was fashioned, and overturned former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s resolution to keep away from a proper inquiry.

Netanyahu, former public safety minister Amir Ohana and different haredi political officers, together with Rabinowitz, had wished to keep away from finger-pointing over the tragedy.

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