At least 2 people have died and more than 100 have been injured after a tribune collapsed on Sunday (16) at a synagogue under construction in the occupied West Bank. The accident occurred in the settlement of Givat Zeev, north of Jerusalem. According to police and emergency services, there were 650 worshipers at the scene for the start of the feast of Pentecost, celebrated seven weeks after Easter.
Images displayed by Channel 12 show the crowded bleachers collapsing and people falling.
According to the local mayor, firefighters and police, the celebration took place despite the lack of permission and official warnings that the area under construction was not safe.
Sunday’s crash again raises questions about safety measures at major religious events. At the end of April, 45 pilgrims died and at least 150 were injured in a riot during a celebration that brought together ultra-Orthodox in Israel. Victims were suffocated or trampled on when an evacuation alert sparked a race during the Lag B’Omer event at Mount Meron in the Upper Galilee.
Tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews gather at the site, where the grave of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, a 2nd century sage, is for annual celebrations which include all night long prayer and dancing, as well as huge bonfires on the mountainside.
Initially, local media reported that part of the arena’s stand had collapsed, which was not subsequently confirmed. The emergency service attributed the accident to overcrowding.
Jerusalem Police Chief Doron Turgeman on Sunday lamented the “negligence and lack of responsibility” he said led to the crash and said there would be arrests.