Creating new perspectives since 2009

Retired Israeli Supreme Court chief to head inquiry on lethal stampede

June 27, 2021 at 4:41 pm

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men mourn during a funeral ceremony in Jerusalem for a victim of an overnight stampede at a Jewish pilgrimage site, on April 30, 2021 [MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP via Getty Images]

A former president of Israel’s Supreme Court was appointed on Sunday to head its state commission of inquiry into a stampede at a Jewish pilgrimage site in April that killed 45 people, among them US and Canadian citizens, reports Reuters.

Retired Chief Justice Miriam Naor will be joined on the panel by Rabbi Mordechai Karelitz, a former mayor of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish city of Bnai Brak, and retired Israeli army general Shlomo Yanai, a courts spokesman said in a statement.

Tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews thronged to the Galilee hillside tomb of 2nd-century sage Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai on April 30 for the annual Lag B’Omer festival that includes all-night prayer, mystical songs, and dance.

During the ceremony, part of the crowd surged into a narrow tunnel and 45 men and boys were asphyxiated or trampled to death. Israeli media said at least six of the fatalities had US citizenship and two had Canadian citizenship.

Ordering the inquiry last week, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said it would help safeguard other mass-attendance events in Israel, which has sites sacred to Christianity and Islam as well as to Judaism.

READ: Israeli settlers gathered near Damascus Gate for religious festival