Calls grow for state commission of inquiry into Meron disaster – The Jerusalem Post

There were increasing calls over the weekend for a state commission of inquiry into the Mount Meron disaster, but whether such a commission is formed could depend on who is prime minister in the coming weeks, as the prime minister can often propel or block such a commission.
If Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remains in office, his incentive, and that of his Likud Public Security Minister Amir Ohana, would be to deflect blame onto others, including the police. So they might not want call for an official state commission, which could lay blame at their feet for their various roles in approving plans for the event.
A new government led by politicians currently in the opposition might be more inclined to push for a state commission, as it could further tar the reputation of Netanyahu and others in the Likud.
As of Friday, the Justice Ministry’s Police Investigation Department (PID) had already taken over the investigation from the Israel Police, since the police themselves might be suspected of either criminal or administrative misconduct.
Israel Police chief Kobi Shabtai and Northern District commander Shimon Lavi were at the scene throughout Thursday night, overseeing operations to evacuate the wounded as well as the tens of thousands who came to the bonfire-lighting ceremony.
Before the disaster began, Ohana had publicly thanked Shabtai and the police forces in the Northern District for “ensuring public safety and order” in anticipation of the celebrations and massive crowds.
By Saturday night, Ohana had changed his tune.  “I am responsible, but responsible does not mean to blame,” he said.

The PID is planning to summon Shabtai and Lavi, in addition to representatives of Ohana’s ministry, the Interior Ministry and the Religious Affairs Ministry, although PID authority over non-police officials is more limited.
Meanwhile, Lavi said that he was prepared to take responsibility for what happened at Mount Meron.
“I am prepared for any investigation and review, but I ask: please wait with the results of the probe,” he told reporters. “This was definitely not the responsibility of the police, and do not be quick to jump and grab onto this video or that video, which is part of a much larger event.”
Following Lavi’s taking responsibility, he received an outpouring of support within the police, which could complicate any intention by Shabtai or others to place the blame on him.
There are indications that Ohana and Shabtai might distance themselves from trying to blame Lavi, given that the official had done a more serious check of the site and bad-case-scenarios than had been done in prior years. Under this scenario, they might try to portray the issue as a long-term national problem they inherited.
Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to the report.

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Calls grow for state commission of inquiry into Meron disaster – The Jerusalem Post

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