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Protesters outside Netanyahu’s residence urge state inquiry into Meron crush

Dozens of people gathered outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official Jerusalem residence on Saturday night, calling to establish a national commission of inquiry into the Mt. Meron crush that left 45 dead.

Police closed several roads as demonstrators filled the streets near the premier’s residence.

The protest was held two days after the deadly crush during Lag B’Omer festivities at the gravesite of the second-century sage Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai in northern Israel.

Some protesters held signs reading: “We mourn the dead. We are furious at those responsible. Corruption kills,” referring to Netanyahu’s corruption trial.

Protesters also lit candles in memory of those who died during the crush.

The disaster which began at 1 a.m. on Friday morning, took place when huge crowds of ultra-Orthodox pilgrims were making their way along a narrow walkway with a slippery metal flooring that ended in flights of stairs. People began to slip and fall, others fell upon them, and a calamitous crush ensued.

At least 45 people were crushed to death, including 10 children and young teenagers, and more than 150 people hurt.

Demonstrators have been holding regular protests for months against Netanyahu, demanding he resign over his trial on charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust.

In recent weeks protestors also called upon politicians to unite against the long-serving leader and establish a new government, in order to prevent the country from heading into a possible fifth round of elections in two years.

At its height in mid-summer 2020, the anti-Netanyahu protest movement saw tens of thousands take to the streets in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, with thousands more at bridges and intersections across the country.

Protesters have also criticized his government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the largest demonstrations so far was held on March 20, in what was the final mass protest before the latest Knesset elections. Tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered in Jerusalem on that Saturday evening.

Netanyahu denies wrongdoing and claims the indictments are part of an effort by political rivals, the media, police, and prosecutors to remove him from office.

Source: Emanuel Fabian – TOI