Police can be heard alerting their superiors to oncoming calamity in recently released recordings of police conversations an hour ahead of the Meron disaster in 2021.
The startling recordings from the half-hour before the horrific incident, in which 45 people were crushed to death, were made public by Israel’s Kan news.
The recording, according to reporter Moshe Steinmetz, shows that the Meron tragedy was caused not only by inadequate infrastructure and overcrowding but also by a severe tactical error on the part of senior police officials who, despite being warned by their subordinates that the situation was dangerous and that they needed more backup forces, failed to provide the necessary reinforcements to relieve the deadly bottleneck at the Dov bridge.
Police officers at the bridge gave a similar warning at 12:22, more than 20 minutes before the tragedy, saying, “It’s getting very crowded here, there are enormous gatherings, people are jostling, come here immediately.”
As the disaster drew nearer, the warnings became more urgent, and the regional police headquarters enquired about what was happening.
The cops responded that they required immediate assistance and inquired, “Where are the sleeping officers?” The unprecedented crush was also noticed by the Kohanim porch police, who called for help to block the porch and prevent the crowds from leaving the area.
The police at the Kohanim porch succeeded belatedly in stopping people from descending, but it was too late for the masses near the Dov bridge, who were already being crushed as they attempted to descend.
One of the senior officers tried to calm the juniors by saying, “it’s because of the Hadlakah [Toldos Aharon] it will take at least another half an hour.”
The younger officers argued that the entrances needed to be closed because “people are crushing one another,” while the senior officers continued questioning why reinforcements were required.
According to Steinmetz, Israel’s worst civilian catastrophe may have been avoided if “the higher officers had been more attentive to the warnings coming from the area.”
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) December 5, 2022