More than 150 injured were also injured after a bleacher collapsed at an unfinished synagogue in the occupied West Bank.
Israeli medics said at least two people were killed and more than 150 injured after a bleacher collapsed at an unfinished synagogue in the occupied West Bank on Sunday, on the eve of a major Jewish holiday.
The bleacher was filled with ultra-Orthodox worshipers and collapsed during prayers at the start of Shavuot. A Magen spokesperson David Adom told Channel 13 paramedics treated more than 157 people for injuries and reported two dead, a man in his 50s and a boy of 12.
Rescuers were on the scene, treating the injured and driving people to hospital. The collapse comes weeks after 45 ultra-Orthodox Jews were killed in a stampede during a religious holiday in northern Israel.
The IDF said in a statement that it had sent medics and other search and rescue troops to assist at the scene. Army helicopters transported the wounded by plane.
Amateur footage showed the collapse Sunday during evening prayers in Givat Zeev, an illegal West Bank settlement just north of Jerusalem.
The ultra-Orthodox synagogue was packed with hundreds of people.
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Shavuot is a spring harvest festival that also marks the day in the Jewish calendar when the Torah was given to Moses on Mount Sinai. It is traditionally marked by studying Torah through the night and consuming dairy products.
The Israeli authorities have passed the blame.
The mayor of Givat Zeev said the building was unfinished and unsafe, and that police had ignored previous calls for action. Jerusalem Police Chief Doron Turgeman said the disaster was a case of “negligence” and that there would likely be arrests.
Deddi Simhi, head of the Israeli fire and rescue service, told Israel’s Channel 12 that “this building is not finished. He doesn’t even have an occupancy permit, let alone organize events there. “
Television footage of the scene showed the five-story building to be incomplete, with exposed concrete, rebar and wooden planks, and plastic sheeting as windows. A sign in Hebrew pasted on a wall of the building warned that “for security reasons, entry to the site is prohibited.”
Defense Minister Benny Gantz wrote on Twitter that “my heart is with the victims of the Givat Zeev disaster”.
On April 29, a stampede at a religious holiday in northern Israel killed 45 ultra-Orthodox Jews, the deadliest civil disaster in the country’s history.
The Mount Meron rush came after years of warnings that the holy site was unsafe for the tens of thousands of visitors it attracts each year for the Lag Baomer holidays.
This year’s festivities drew around 100,000 people, most of them ultra-Orthodox Jews, after powerful ultra-Orthodox politicians reportedly pressured Acting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others to lift restrictions on presence.
Experts had long warned that the Mount Meron complex was not sufficiently equipped to handle the huge crowds that flock there during spring break, and that the current state of infrastructure posed a security risk.
The disaster sparked further criticism of the broad autonomy granted to the country’s powerful ultra-Orthodox minority.
Over the past year, many ultra-Orthodox communities flouted coronavirus-related security restrictions, contributing to high epidemic rates in their communities and angering the general secular public.