Two years after it was the site of Israel’s worst-ever civilian disaster, no insurance company in Israel or around the world is willing to cover the annual Jewish pilgrimage to Mount Meron, set to be held in two weeks, the event’s organizer told a Knesset committee Monday.
Addressing the National Security Committee, Yossi Deitch, the government-appointed administrator of the festivities, said that in place of a private company, the state should insure the event.
“At the moment I am carrying out a project for the country, and nobody wants to insure me. Everyone runs away from me like I’m a leper, so what can I do? Of course, I need to turn to the body that I am doing this for,” Deitch said.
On April 30, 2021, 45 people were killed in a stampede caused by overcrowding on a faulty walkway at Mount Meron during annual Lag B’Omer festivities.
“Everyone that heard about Meron runs away from it and is not willing to insure it for any fortune in the world. A few years ago there was no problem with insurance. Everyone that is competent is evading it,” Deitch added.
Keren Fatal, director general of the Merom HaGalil Regional Council, where the event takes place, also sounded the alarm over the lack of insurance.
“We are at the 11th hour, and as we get closer to the festivities there is a possibility that someone will say the event won’t happen without insurance. It’s not responsible, and nobody is protecting us,” she told the committee.
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said at the meeting that Accountant General Yali Rothenberg will consider indemnifying the event, thereby promising to cover potential damages with the state budget, similar to the 2022 event.
Last year, the government partially covered the event for potential physical harm to participants.
The 2022 festivities were also significantly downsized and several safety measures were implemented to avoid a repeat of the catastrophe.
Mount Meron, the site of the grave of the second-century sage Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, is traditionally visited by thousands of mainly ultra-Orthodox worshipers on the anniversary of his death during the holiday of Lag B’Omer, several weeks after Passover. This year, Lag B’Omer begins on the evening of May 8.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this event.