Six people to be charged for accident that killed IDF officer on Jerusalem's Mount Herzl

2012 tragedy took the life of 20-year-old Hila Betzaleli during rehearsals for annual Independence Day ceremony.

April 30, 2014 16:26
2 minute read.
Lighting rig falls at Har Herzl

Lighting rig falls at Har Herzl 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)


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The State Attorney’s Office plans to indict five people and a corporation with negligent manslaughter in the death of IDF Lt. Hila Betzaleli, who was killed two years ago when a scaffold fell on her during rehearsals for the annual Independence Day ceremony on Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl.

Those being charged are Doron and Elad Lavie, the owners of the Itzuv Bima company, which is also being charged and that put up the lighting scaffolding that collapsed; Taimorez Leonidze, the company’s operations manager, Oren Varshavski, the structure’s engineer, and Yitzhak Zucker, who served as the safety consultant for the event.

The charges are expected to include negligently causing bodily injury.

A pre-indictment announcement offered the six a special hearing as a last chance to convince the state not to indict them. Such hearings almost never prevent indictments.

The announcement of an intention to indict the men came two years after the tragedy, following an extensive and complex investigation into the event and the collection of evidence.

More recently an opinion was received from experts at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa to serve as a strong foundation for pointing the finger at the defendants from a technical perspective, the statement mentioned.

Under police questioning, it became clear that Itzuv Bima did not obtain all of the required permits.

Another part of the investigation focused on whether officials in the Public Diplomacy Ministry might have had a hand in the accident, by allowing Itzuv Bima to move forward without the permits.

In response to allegations regarding those ministry officials, the Justice Ministry said that a decision has not yet been reached regarding their culpability for the incident.

Betzaleli’s mother, Sigalit, responded to the announcement with mixed emotions.

She said that the decision to indict had taken too long and that the ministry officials also needed to be indicted.Sigalit Betzaleli added that neither she nor her sister’s soul could rest until all those responsible had been brought to justice.

The accident occurred on April 18, 2012, when a 10-meter-tall steel light rigging system collapsed.

The soldiers from the Color Guard who were rehearsing for the ceremony were trapped underneath the large lighting truss when it fell shortly after 3 p.m.

Hila Bezaleli, 20, was killed and another soldier was critically injured. Two other victims were lightly injured and treated at Shaare Zedek Medical Center and Hadassah University Medical Center in Ein Kerem.

Witnesses said the steel structure was wavering dangerously in the wind, and someone called out, “It’s going to fall!” before the entire structure crashed to the ground.

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