Police commandant Amnon Alkelai, who was head of the police force’s operations unit when the Lag Ba'omer disaster occurred in Meron, appeared before the state commission of inquiry into the incident on Thursday morning.
According to Alkelai, Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai rejected his recommendation and that of Northern District Commissioner Shimon Lavie to limit the number of people permitted to gather in Meron on Lag Ba’omer. Alkelai told the commission that Shabtai insisted that there were only two options: either allow the event to proceed unimpeded, with as many people present as wanted to attend; or cancel it entirely.
“My recommendation was to limit the number of participants,” Alkelai said. “But the Commissioner vetoed the idea. He said that it was a black-and-white question – either it was to go ahead without any restrictions, or the mountain would be closed-off to everyone. I thought that was crazy. I said that the main problem was the overcrowding and the concern for public welfare this caused – and that if they allowed it to go ahead without restrictions, they should be prepared for a mass-casualty event.”