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Monday, January 10, 2022 

Israeli police chief bears accountability in Mount Meron fiasco

According to the following report, the police chief refused to seriously approach the topic of Mount Meron's overcrowding catastrophe last year, which is partly the reason why 45 men and boys died from trampling amid the chaos that ensued:
Israel Police Insp.-Gen. Kobi Shabtai dismissed concerns about overcrowding ahead of last year’s Mount Meron disaster, a senior police commander told the state commission of inquiry Sunday.

On April 30, 45 mostly haredi (ultra-Orthodox) men and boys died in a mass crush on Mount Meron. It was Israel’s deadliest ever civilian disaster. Tens of thousands of pilgrims had gathered for the annual Lag Ba’omer celebrations near the tomb of Talmudic sage Shimon bar Yochai.

Police Operations Division Cmdr. Shimon Nachmani said he had tried to warn the police chief that the site was a disaster waiting to happen.

“I was very disturbed by the decision not to limit the volume of the public” attending since “the site cannot hold that many,”
he testified. “The extent to which things are squished there is out of control. I said to the police chief that we are obligated to do a field tour of the site. He responded: ‘Don’t worry, any state inquiry is on me.’”

Virtually everyone who has testified to the commission has said the writing was on the wall in terms of the dangerous mix of too many attendees and too few safety measures, together with poor structural engineering at the site
.
Even more disturbing, a police official says Shabtai penalized him for whistleblowing:
Shimon Nachmani, the head of the Operations Division in the Israel Police, claims that his promotion within the police was halted after he was accused of leaking relevant materials to the state commission of inquiry into last year’s Meron disaster.

Testifying in front of the commission, Nachmani says he was told he was in line for a promotion to deputy chief of a new branch aimed at fighting crime in the Arab sector. “Then I was surprised when [the police chief] asked me during the interview, ‘Why did you give materials to the probe?'”

Nachmani says Israel Police chief Kobi Shabtai worked to sabotage his promotion due to the allegations. Former Supreme Court president Miriam Naor, who heads the commission of inquiry, says Nachmani did not leak documents to the probe.
Needless to say, this is disturbing regardless, and Shabtai should be resigning right about now for refusing to take the worries seriously.

To make matters worse, about 2 weeks ago, the Haredi brother of a Mossad official said police conduct at the site was repellent:
Barnea said he could not initially find his son amid the chaos, and was blocked by a policeman who was aggressive toward him as he tried to move around.

“I told him eventually ‘Listen, I was in the disaster, I survived, I can’t find my son, you’ve got to help me find him.’ He told me ‘A pity you didn’t kick it too.'

Barnea eventually found his son safe, and then “everything hit me. I fell apart. For the first week or two, I didn’t function at all. I literally couldn’t walk. I stopped working, I kept seeing the events before my eyes. I’m still not myself.”

He put much of the blame for the scope of the disaster on police conduct, which he said was violent and antagonistic throughout. “The feeling was that the cops were not here to help us, they were our enemies… Everywhere you saw cops hitting people, it was heartbreaking.”
Now it was bad enough there were Haredi extremists who'd antagonized lady IDF soldiers who were trying to help clean up the mess after the disaster. But this is just as obscene, and has only precipitated societal rifts that should be avoided. Whoever the policemen were who acted obnoxiously at the site, they should resign, and apologize for acting like barbarians themselves. Most likely, they're leftists, yet it doesn't mean they respect the Haredis who embrace socialism much like they do.

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