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Ultra-Orthodox men tear down victims’ pictures at memorial for Meron victims

‘A red line was crossed,’ say families of those killed in the deadly crush during Lag B’Omer celebrations at the shrine; police investigating

A screenshot of security camera footage shows suspects vandalizing posters of the victims of the Mount Meron disaster. (Screen capture: Twitter)
A screenshot of security camera footage shows suspects vandalizing posters of the victims of the Mount Meron disaster. (Screen capture: Twitter)

Police have opened an investigation after a memorial to victims of the deadly crush at Mount Meron in April was vandalized Wednesday.

Video of the incident showed several ultra-Orthodox men at the holy site in northern Israel walking up to posters bearing photos of the 45 people trampled to death during Lag B’Omer festivities on April 30. The victims were from the ultra-Orthodox community.

The suspects are seen tearing down the posters and trampling on them.

An organization representing the victims’ families filed a police complaint over the vandalism and urged that the suspects be brought to justice.

“A red line was crossed tonight, ugly vandalism that evokes shock and disgust in the heart of every Jew,” the group said in a statement.

Police said they were working to locate the suspects, according to Channel 12 news.

The tragedy occurred as thousands of people visiting Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai’s gravesite streamed through a narrow walkway. The passage was covered with metal flooring, which may have been wet, causing some people to fall underfoot during the rush for the exit. Some apparently fell on the walkway and down a flight of stairs at its end, toppling onto those below and precipitating a fatal crushing domino effect.

The deadly crush has been blamed on improperly installed ramparts and walkways.

On Monday, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit ordered a halt of the criminal investigation into the disaster in order for a state commission of inquiry formed to probe the disaster to take the lead. The panel, which had been opposed by some in the ultra-Orthodox community, began its work earlier this month.

State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman is also currently conducting an investigation, which will apparently continue.

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