Meron probe paused after COVID-19 exposure, inquiry chair quarantined

The state inquiry proceedings have paused pending inquiry chairwoman Miriam Naor's PCR test results.

 Members of the Meron disaster commission (L-R) former Bnei Brak mayor Rabbi Mordechai Karelitz, Commission chair and former chief justice Miriam Naor and former IDF planning chief Maj. Gen. (res.) Shlomo Yanai seen during the Meron Disaster Inquiry Committee, in Jerusalem, on August 22, 2021.  (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
Members of the Meron disaster commission (L-R) former Bnei Brak mayor Rabbi Mordechai Karelitz, Commission chair and former chief justice Miriam Naor and former IDF planning chief Maj. Gen. (res.) Shlomo Yanai seen during the Meron Disaster Inquiry Committee, in Jerusalem, on August 22, 2021.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Former chief justice and current Meron disaster state inquiry chairwoman Miriam Naor entered quarantine on Tuesday following exposure to a coronavirus-infected individual.

In light of the developments, the state inquiry proceedings have been paused pending Naor’s PCR test results.

It was unclear how quickly the probe proceedings would be able to resume.

An increasing number of judges have been quarantined recently, with a postponement of proceedings in Case 3000, the Submarine Affair, when Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court President Benny Sagi was exposed to a coronavirus-infected individual. But many of the infections are not necessarily announced if they do not impact a case with high public interest and coverage.

On Monday, Religious Services Minister Matan Kahana appointed Brig.-Gen. (res.) Tzviki Tessler to run Mount Meron planning and preparation for major events, such as Lag Ba’omer, for the coming year.

MEMORIALIZING THE 45 victims killed in the Meron stampede, at Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on May 2 (credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90)MEMORIALIZING THE 45 victims killed in the Meron stampede, at Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on May 2 (credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90)

In November, the inquiry released an interim report to assist with planning for the coming year’s events.

The committee was formed in late June after the government of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett took over the country’s reins and overturned former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to avoid a formal inquiry.

On April 30, 45 men and boys, mostly haredim (ultra-Orthodox), died in a mass crush on Mount Meron, the site of the tomb of Talmudic sage Shimon Bar Yochai, where tens of thousands of pilgrims had gathered for the annual Lag Ba’omer celebrations in what was Israel’s worst civilian disaster.