I Cried To The Policeman: “Take The Barrier Away Or People Will Die”

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Ultra Orthodox Jews look at the scene where fatalities were reported among the thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews during Lag BaOmer festival at Mt. Meron in northern Israel, Friday, April 30, 2021. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

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Yitzchak Deri, 24, is an avreich from Bnei Brak who survived the Meron disaster but sadly lost his good friend and former yeshivah roommate.

In an interview on Radio 103FM on Sunday, Deri said: “First of all I want to thank Hakadosh Baruch Hu that I’m here and not with my former roommate in yeshivah who is now in Shamayim – my friend Chaim Ozer Seler, z’l, a father of a two-week-old girl. Anyone who witnessed his almanah parting from her husband yesterday will never be able to forget the sight.”

“I was with him at Meron – my friend from yeshivah. We learned together, we were roommates.”

Chaim Seler, z’l.

Deri explained what he experienced at Meron: “I was next to this wall of death [a metal barrier placed at the exit by the police] – to which there’s no explanation or inkling of why it was put there. I went back, I fought against the swarm of people and I managed to get out.”

“I have witnesses to this – I cried to the police officer and told him: ‘Take this out – this wall of death – we’re dying.’ I told him that I almost fainted. I said: ‘There’s going to be dozens of people dying and I’ll testify against you in court.’ And this was ten minutes before the tragedy occurred.”

Deri explained that even before the tragedy occurred, the crowding was so severe that it was life-threatening and that’s what he was warning the police about: “[I was warning the police] due the crowding and pressure. What happened was that the Toldos Aharon hadlaka took place suddenly. And it’s not clear who gave an order to close off the entrance – they left only a narrow exit. The [Toldos Aharon] hadlaka is maybe the biggest one and it’s the most crowded and someone gave an order to close off the entrance.”

“I came out because I was suffocating from the crowding during the hadlaka. They told me to leave from the stairs but it wasn’t possible to leave, people tried to leave but couldn’t. A father with a three-year-old was next to me and he pleaded with me: ‘Take him out, he’ll die here’ – and this was before the disaster. Slowly the crowding got even worse, with thousands trying to leave the hadlaka but the other side was closed.”

“Until my dying day I’ll recognize that police officer. I don’t know if it was all because of him. I requested one thing – come down and see, people are fainting, do something. I cried to him for about five to seven minutes. I told him: ‘You’ll be responsible for what’s happening here.’ I also cried to two police officers who were standing next to him. Whoever thinks that the police are not guilty is making a big mistake. We were screaming and begging to open it up – no one understands who gave the order [to place a barrier by the exit] and why.”

“They put the wall of death there. Anyone who was walking toward the entrance should have been able to leave and the barrier they put there blocked it off. People were suffocating at the hadlaka, they wanted to leave but there was no option.”

“Those who say that there’s no one to blame, not even the police – it was clear that they were going to die. I was there and I heard several people say ‘Shema Yisrael.’ I don’t know how to explain it.”

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)


18 COMMENTS

  1. Up until now I was skeptical of calling the police “Nazi’s”
    Now I unfortunately don’t have a doubt.
    Defund police.
    IF this article is correct, they are mamash murderers.

  2. Anytime something goes wrong there is always the guy who knew and said it would.

    Intentional negligence wasn’t necessarily the reason the barrier remained

  3. Sholem,
    “And it’s not clear who gave an order to close off the entrance – they left only a narrow exit.”

    I’ll explain it to you. It was overcrowded, so they were preventing any more people from ENTERING. They left only a small exit to make it easier to make sure no one entered, while allowing people to exit.

    This does not exonerate the police. They should have realized such a crowd is dangerous and that no one could go in anyway because of the crowd, and opened the barricade altogether.

    So who do we blame, the guy who ordered it closed without specifying to open it under such conditions or the officers manning the barricade who did what they were told without thinking?
    Or the ones who closed the second exit, or the ones who didn’t make 4 exits, or the ones who signed that it was safe even though it wasn’t, or the ones who didn’t let the gov build it or the gov who didn’t build anyway?

    Forget the blame – fix all of those problems and do Teshuvah!

  4. so horrible–so negligent–if there policemen aren’t severely punished, then my view of the Israeli authorities will be much lower.

  5. smerel watch your mouth
    Right, this wasn’t intentional negligence, this was intentional murder.
    The police are murderers, period.

  6. smerel,

    I personally don’t think the police had poor intentions, I’m sure they were good intentions actually. But, clearly, they failed in their mission in a miserable way. How is it that people were fainting in front of their eyes and they did nothing? Come on, there are multiple videos out there that I myself have seen that are very troubling, my guess is there are alot more that were not made public. This was a colossal failure that dozens of families need to suffer with the rest of their lives.

  7. Although I am NOT SATMAR and NOT AT ALL NETURE KARTA, I find it quite interesting how YWN always chastises the Yidden in Yerusholayim while constantly defending the Police. All of a sudden when such a WORLD TRAGEDY happens, YWN finds how to blame the Police, NOT MENTIONING AT ALL THAT MAYBE IT WAS CAUSED BY OUR SINS!!

  8. I have no idea why the fence was there, but this fellow sounds like one of those people who tears down fences without understanding why they were put up.

  9. Having a 150,000 people at an event isn’t the police’s fault. Every picture that i have seen has people jamb packed like sardines with no masks. What ever happened to vNeshmarta Meod Al Nafshotechem and Adam Muad L’Olam? This was a terrible tragedy that should not be repeated.

  10. THE GOVERNMENT WILL WHITEWASH THIS AS IN THE PAST AND DRAG IT OUT SO LONG SO PEOPLE WILL FORGET. I read that from Arutz 7 that Government and police has not even interviewed the police mentioned above and are collecting evidence to BLAME THE SUPREME COURT. !!!!
    From where is Supreme Court?
    They are saying since the Supreme Court allowed the religious community oversee the site its them to blame.
    WHICH IN REAL TERMS
    THE GOVERNMENT AND POLICE IS SAYING THAT THE FRUM RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY IS TO BE BLAMED.

    Double the Travesty
    Back stabbing
    Self protection
    BELAMING THE DEATH OF THE THESE YOUNG MEN ON THE DEAD.

    There is no word to describe how a frum community can sit in government with blood on their hands.

  11. @smerel: There are too many people who warned police and authorities well ahead of the disaster r”l.
    There are not saying “I knew it would happen…” No, they actually warned them, so they are personally guilty of murder.

  12. I’m not saying this isn’t true, but….. looking through a lot of the available footage, I could not find anywhere even a glimpse of the barriers mentioned.

    According to other eyewitness accounts, people fell on the steps, and due to the over-crowdedness more people fell on top of those until there was no way to pass…

  13. Right…. because in general police officers should listen to any person that stam tells them to do this or that, and especially if they cry, or say that someone will die if they don’t…. This was a horribly sad situation, tremendous suffering and devastation. Lives shattered for hundreds of people, siblings, spouses, children, parents…. And of course there were people who said beforehand, you need to do this or that or else…, but that doesn’t mean that any particular police officer was wrong, or even cold-hearted and horrible. Go speak to a police officer and ask about this! 99% of them are caring, thoughtful, and professional. I’m sure that most officers there are terribly scarred by what happened – even those who fought in Tzahal had never seen so many people die, it was truly horrific. Tremendous planning took place before, and while of course mistakes were made, this doesn’t mean that the people on the ground were horrible or like Nazis. Cut out this absurd guzma, it’s not in place in any way. The officers are crying too.

  14. נעבעך
    He still thinks there was a barricade there, we all see the videos that it was closed off with people, not a מחסום.

  15. meshuga1, you and a 1000 other naïve americans who second guessed your religious brothers in EY. the police here are horrible