Cousin of slain Palestinian family confirmed dead in garage collapse
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Cousin of slain Palestinian family confirmed dead in garage collapse

Relatives call Mohammad Dawabsha good man, a breadwinner; 2 victims of Ramat Hahayal disaster yet to be identified

Israeli rescue workers at the site where a building collapsed in Tel Aviv's Ramat Hahayal neighborhood, September 6, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Israeli rescue workers at the site where a building collapsed in Tel Aviv's Ramat Hahayal neighborhood, September 6, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

A cousin of a Palestinian family killed last year in an arson attack by alleged Jewish terrorists was among the six construction workers killed when a parking garage in Tel Aviv collapsed last week, police confirmed Sunday.

In a statement, a police spokesperson announced that 28-year-old Mohammad Dawabsha from the Palestinian West Bank town of Duma was identified as one of the fatalities in the disaster at the four-story underground facility in the Ramat Hahayal area of Tel Aviv.

Last week, a member of the Dawabsha family confirmed to The Times of Israel his relative was missing and believed trapped underneath the rubble of the collapsed structure. However, police would not confirm the claim until his body was found and identified.

Dawabsha was married and a father to two children, according to Israeli news site Walla. He was one of several Palestinian construction workers who were at the site in north Tel Aviv when it suddenly caved in Monday morning. His cousins, Saad and Riham and baby Ali Dawabsha, died after their home was firebombed on July 31, 2015. The sole surviving family member, five-year-old Ahmed, spent a year in hospital recovering from severe burns.

Relatives in Duma described Mohammad Dawabsha as “a good man who only wanted to work and bring food home to his family,” Walla reported.

Rescue workers at the site of a building collapse in Tel Aviv on September 5, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Rescue workers at the site of a building collapse in Tel Aviv on September 5, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The six people were trapped under the rubble, with rescue workers struggling to find and reach them. Three of the bodies were found within the first 48 hours. The fourth was found on Friday afternoon, and the last two — one of them Dawabsha — were pulled from the debris on Saturday.

So far, three other victims were named by officials: Oleg Yakubov (60) from Tel Aviv; Dennis Dyachenko (28), a foreign worker from Ukraine; and Ihad Ajhaj (34), a Palestinian from Bayt Rima, northwest of Ramallah.

Galina Yakubov, whose husband Oleg Yakubov was killed in the collapse of a garage in Ramat Hahayal, talks to the media at her Tel Aviv home on September 7, 2016. (screen capture: Channel 2)
Galina Yakubov, whose husband Oleg Yakubov was killed in the collapse of a garage in Ramat Hahayal, talks to the media at her Tel Aviv home on September 7, 2016. (screen capture: Channel 2)

The Knesset’s Labor, Welfare, and Health Committee on Thursday summoned representatives from the Danya Cebus construction company, various government ministries and police to address the fatal collapse in the Ramat Hahayal neighborhood.

The construction site was inspected in June and was not found to pose “significant” safety hazards, and the collapse was the result of an engineering failure, the panel heard.

Varda Edwards, the head of the Economy Ministry’s Israel Institute for Occupational Safety and Hygiene, said the site of the garage complex — which was nearing completion — was not found to have “significant flaws” when it was inspected in June.

“There were no significant flaws,” she told the Knesset committee, describing it overall as a “relatively good inspection.”

Echoing Edwards, the chairman of the Danya Cebus company insisted the building site complied with government safety standards.

“It’s not an issue of safety,” said Ronen Ginsburg, adding that an engineer had supervised the project. “It was an engineering failure.”

Ginsburg vowed his company would cooperate fully with a police investigation into the collapse. “We won’t conceal anything and we will hand over all the materials needed for the investigation.”

Details of the investigation remained under a gag order as of Sunday.

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