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Minister said to muzzled police chief request for Meron probe commission

15 10 5
04.05.2021

Public Security Minister Amir Ohana reportedly told Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai to drop a request for a state commission of inquiry into the deadly Meron festival disaster, Channel 13 News reported Monday.

There have been increasing demands for a state probe of the tragedy at Lag B’Omber celebrations last week when 45 people were killed in a crush and over 150 injured.

During a meeting of senior police commanders, Shabtai declared that he would make a formal request to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to set up a state commission of inquiry, the report said.

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At some point during the Monday morning meeting, Ohana arrived and, after learning of Shabtai’s intention, asked to speak with the chief in private. When they returned to the room, Northern District Commander Shimon Lavi also voiced his request for a state inquiry, at which point Ohana asked to speak with him too, in private, according to the report.

What was said between the minister and the two police officers was not reported but no request has been made by Shabtai to Mandelblit, the report said.

Police said in response that during the meeting Shabtai had demanded that an investigative committee be established to examine the circumstances of the disaster and the role of all relevant organizations. Other options were also raised, including by Shabtai himself, the statement said.

Ohana spoke with the police chief and others both before and after the meeting, but before any final decision was taken on the matter the State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman announced a special probe of the disaster, which is nonetheless not a state inquiry commission.

“Therefore, it was decided, at this stage, to wait for the outcome,” the police said.

A statement on behalf of Ohana said that “as usual, in the past few days attempts are made to attribute to the minister and police claims and........

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