12-story scaffolding collapses in Jerusalem area, killing two

MDA, police and fire and rescue teams have been called to a collapsed scaffolding, injuring several people.

 Building in Givat Ze'ev near Jerusalem that collapsed, killing two (photo credit: UNITED HATZALAH‏)
Building in Givat Ze'ev near Jerusalem that collapsed, killing two
(photo credit: UNITED HATZALAH‏)

Two construction workers were killed and another person was moderately injured after a 12-story building collapsed in Givat Ze'ev near Jerusalem on Monday.

The three were trapped under the rubble and eventually pulled out by fire and rescue services. Among them, a 35-year-old man was found dead and brought out from under the rubble, while another man was seriously injured. After prolonged rescue efforts, medics were forced to determine the death of a 32-year-old man who was pulled out and taken to Hadassah-University Medical Center in Jerusalem's Mount Scopus.

The two casualties were later identified as Haitham Mahmoud Hamamera, a resident of the Palestinian village of Husan near Bethlehem, and Muhammad Ibrahim al-Quaisi.

Medics, police and fire brigade teams were initially called to the scene. They reported difficulties in the rescue efforts and called in a crane to pull off some of the rubble.

"I was sitting at home and suddenly I heard a crazy boom," an eyewitness said. "Everything was white smoke, I saw that the scaffolding of a tall building on the side of one of the buildings had collapsed."

"Everything was white smoke, I saw that the scaffolding of a tall building on the side of one of the buildings had collapsed."

Eyewitness report

MDA medics Eli Raymond and Moshe Blach said, "When we arrived there was a commotion and we heard shouting, we saw a pile of scaffolding that had collapsed from a height of a 12-story building. We noticed several [construction] workers walking around the place after having anxiety attacks."

 Building in Givat Ze'ev near Jerusalem that collapsed, killing two (credit: UNITED HATZALAH‏) Building in Givat Ze'ev near Jerusalem that collapsed, killing two (credit: UNITED HATZALAH‏)

They tried to get information from the site managers and discovered then that three workers were trapped under the rubble.

Concerns over construction site safety are not new 

State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman's report just a few months ago in May that the state only collected 5% of the fines for safety violations and filed only eight indictments out of 72 fatal accidents in the construction industry.

According to the comptroller, the number of fatalities in work accidents in Israel is twice the average in EU countries, a ratio of 11 per hundred thousand people in Jerusalem, compared to five fatalities in Europe.

Israel Police announced on Monday evening it had issued an order to halt the construction work done in the Jerusalem site after it opened an investigation into the incident, which will be led by the division for investigating work accidents at Lahav 433, Israel's national crime unit.

Three suspects have already been detained for questioning on Monday evening, police said.