HEAR THE HORROR: Meron Disaster: Chilling Recordings Of The Police Chief’s Briefs Are Revealed

Meron disaster.

A year and a half after the terrible disaster, Kan News revealed chilling recordings of the conversation between then-Northern District Commander Shimon Lavi and his senior officers during the unfolding of the disaster.

In the exclusive recordings, Lavi is exposed to real-time reports from his officers stationed around Meron as the terrible disaster occurred. At first, Lavi and the senior officers are unaware of the dimensions of the disaster but little by little, they become aware of the scope of the horror at the site.

> Command room: “We have a report from MDA about 15 deaths.”

> Lavi: “Disregard the numbers.”

The following conversation took place on the communication network of Lavi and his senior officers a few minutes after the deadly crush.

Emek 1 – North 3: “What do we know about those injured there in the Toldos Aharon hadlaka?”

> “They reported to us about 20 people who were injured, unconscious, trying to reach them.”

>”Where is it exactly?”

> “I want a report of Emek 1 – what is happening right now at Toldos Aharon?”

> “What I understand – a crush with several casualties.”

> “I am currently announcing a full multi-casualty event. At this stage, the Emekim District takes responsibility for the scene, the incident. Traffic Police forces don’t bring the crowd in but out.”

“The incident there is continuing, in my opinion.”

At this stage, none of the senior officers really understand what is happening. And then Lavi makes the first decision – to end the Meron celebration.

> North 1: “End the event?”

> District Commander: “Positive, stop the event.”

Medics begin to treat the many injured, but the tens of thousands of visitors, who aren’t aware of what’s happening, crowd the paths and block the movement of the rescue forces.

> Galil 1 – North 1: “We have to disperse the crowd. Request that the crowd be dispersed. Right now, we’re having difficulty evacuating the injured.”

> Emek 1: “Activate the announcement for the evacuation of the mountain in Yiddish also now.”

The recordings of the police communication network reveal that even about a quarter of an hour after the disaster, the top police commanders don’t fully understand the situation, nor even where exactly the incident is taking place.

> “Victor, where are you exactly?”

> “I’m heading towards the scene of the incident.”

> “Is the incident at Toldos Aharon?”

> “The incident is at Toldos Aharon.”

> “The incident is at the Merpeset Kohanim, the Toldos Aharon area.”

> “The incident is at Gesher Dov.”

A few more minutes pass and the District Commander, as is heard in his broken voice, begins to internalize the dimensions of the disaster.

> “I again ask to make an announcement to the entire kehal, there’s an incident with many casualties – to clear the routes toward the entrance below.”

> Lavi: “Requesting a helicopter for the air, to prepare all the surrounding hospitals to receive a double-digit number of the injured. Requesting evacuation routes, to allow evacuation.”

> “Positive, the route is clear.”

Half an hour since the start of the disaster. Lavi is on the scene.

> Command room: “The MDA reported 15 killed, 30 wounded, and dozens are lightly injured.”

> Lavi: “I’m at the scene – the situation is much worse. Ignore the numbers for now, it doesn’t matter, right now the main effort is to rescue as quickly as possible to hospitals.”

> Command room: “There are buses available to transport the wounded if necessary.”

> Command room: “For your information, five ambulances already left.”

> Command room: “A request for the ambulances to drive a little more safely because there are many pedestrians on the way out.”

Ten minutes later, Lavi requests another update regarding the number of wounded.

> Lavi: “First, request an update from MDA regarding the number of the wounded. I want an update of the situation regarding the evacuation of the wounded.”

> “Currently, MDA evacuated two to Ziv, Ichud Hatzala – four.”

> Lavi: “I am aware that dozens of wounded were evacuated. I’m receiving a report that only six were evacuated. Why the disparity?”

> Command room to Lavi: “Ten evacuations, so far two in serious condition.”

> Lavi: “We are currently gathering all those who were killed at the scene. So far.”

> “I have no more injured people, I have over 15 ambulances.”

> Lavi: “It doesn’t make sense. It seems to me that they’re carrying out resuscitations all over. In any case, continue with the evacuation.”

> Levi: We’re gathering all the dead at the site. Bring an investigations officer already with all the staff to join ZAKA and deal with the matter.”

The efforts to evacuate the masses from Har Meron continue for many hours and the commanders are faced with a lack of forces.

> Levi: “They should continue pushing them to evacuate. They’re stalled.”

> “The routes towards the moshav are blocked due to the number of people. You need to start evacuating from below.”

> “Right now my forces are up above evacuating. I don’t have more forces.”

> “Massive descent from the mountain, while moving they will turn right, left.”

> “We’re not managing to evacuate the crowd.”

50 minutes after the disaster. There are no injured people at the scene. Just a long line of bodies.

> “At the moment, the dead are not being evacuated. The dead are remaining at the scene. Don’t bring in any more ambulances.”

> “Currently there are no injured people at the scene.”

> “Do you have any more injured casualties to evacuate?”

> “Currently negative.”

It was the greatest civil disaster in Israel’s history. The recordings provide a new glimpse at the pivotal moments and the decisions made in real-time by those who were responsible for the lives of the visitors to the site, the injured and the 45 dead.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)