Two people were killed and 184 injured when newly installed bleachers at a new hassidic synagogue in Givat Ze’ev collapsed during holiday celebrations Sunday night.
Security camera footage of the incident at the new premises of the Karlin-Stolin hassidic community showed hundreds of hassidim falling away as the top three rows of the bleachers collapsed during festivities on Shavuot eve at 7:14 p.m.The funeral of the two – Binyamin Rubinstein, 23, and Meir Globerman, 13 – took place late Monday night, starting out in Givat Zee'v and finishing at a funeral home on Shamgar Street in Jerusalem.
The hassidim were reportedly celebrating the induction of the new synagogue together with the grand rabbi of the Karlin-Stolin hassidic community, with some 600 people in attendance, according to Channel 12.
During Monday, it emerged that warnings by various officials had been issued saying that the synagogue was not fit for large numbers of worshipers.
The disaster took place less than three weeks after the Mount Meron tragedy that resulted in 45 deaths. Both disasters apparently could have been avoided, considering the numerous early warnings provided."I heard a lot of screaming for help from people inside," said United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Yossi Eisenstein.
Hundreds of emergency services personnel, including police and Magen David Adom paramedics, arrived quickly at the disaster site in Givat Ze’ev, extracting dozens of the injured and providing emergency medical treatment.
Some 184 others received treatment at the site or were evacuated to several hospitals, the majority to Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center and the rest to Hadassah Ein Karem, Mount Scopus, and Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer.
Five people suffered serious injuries and 10 were moderately injured.
Avi Sheff, an MDA paramedic who arrived at the scene of the disaster, said he found dozens of injured people piled on top of one another, trapped under the ruins of the collapsed bleachers.
“While performing initial examinations and triage, we rescued the injured and took them to the many MDA ambulances and emergency mobile units which had been sent to the scene,” Sheff said."When we received the emergency alert at United Hatzalah's Dispatch and Command Center we understood that more than 100 people were injured and we declared a mass-casualty-incident. Dozens of Doctors, paramedics, and EMTs, from United Hatzalah, both Jewish and Muslim, rushed to the scene in order to help the injured," said United Hatzalah President Eli Beer.
MDA paramedic Moshe Tubolsky said after the incident that “when I arrived, there was a big commotion, people shouted and ran everywhere telling me that the bleachers had collapsed with dozens inside the synagogue.
“A number of lightly wounded people were near the entrance and civilians led me to a severely injured man who was lying on the floor nearby, unconscious and suffering from a head injury,” said Tubolsky.
“While other large MDA teams were scanning the scene and providing medical care to other wounded people, I put him in an ambulance and gave him life-saving medical care that included anesthesia and breathing support. He was evacuated to Shaare Zedek in serious condition.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement that he was “praying” for those injured in the incident.
Many sustained broken bones, severe crush injuries, and head and abdominal trauma.
Prof. Iri Libergal, director of the Orthopedic Center at Hadassah hospital told Ynet that numerous life-saving orthopedic, neurological and abdominal surgeries were performed during the course of Sunday night on the seriously wounded.
More surgical operations were carried out on Monday.
MDA services reportedly supplied hospitals in the Jerusalem region with 237 doses of blood or plasma in response to the massive influx of patients.
Fire and Rescue Services had sent an email on Sunday morning to the relevant parties at the Givat Ze’ev Local Council, clarifying that the planned Shavuot event at the synagogue had not received approval from them due to ongoing construction at the site.
Speaking with N12, Jerusalem district police commissioner Doron Turjeman said: “Once again we arrive at an event that involves negligence and irresponsible conduct. The station commander informed the head of the council that this structure is forbidden for prayers and large gatherings.”
He blamed the local council for failing to stop the event, saying: “This is a synagogue. A local authority has all the powers required within the law to deal with it. There is a local authority’s responsibility here in all aspects of authority.”
The police published a document on Sunday evening that was sent from the Lev HaBira station in Jerusalem to the head of the council, stating that “the event is not approved according to safety regulations. The local authority must send inspectors and ensure that the event does not take place.”
Givat Ze’ev Local Council head Yossi Avrahami told N12 after the incident that “the council appealed to all those who are supposed to deal with these issues – appealed and warned them. I instructed my people not to approve this event at any stage.”
He added that earlier on Sunday afternoon, “we put up roadblocks with signs that say the site here is dangerous. The police told us they were [not accepting] responsibility for the event.”
A spokesman for the Karlin-Stolin hassidic community said on Monday night that the correct permits, including safety permits, had been obtained for the building, which would be presented to the relevant officials.
“It appears at this preliminary stage that there was a severe localized failing in the construction of the bleachers,” adding that the hassidic community would “act with transparency and responsibility and in cooperation with the authorities investigating this severe incident.
“We are pained and shocked by the heavy mourning and terrible pain over the disaster that struck our community,” the spokesman added, noting that the Karlin-Stolin hassidic community “is especially diligent about protecting life.”
Karlin-Stolin was assiduous in observing Health Ministry regulations during the coronavirus crisis.