Half a year later:
Families of Meron disaster victims haven't received a penny from the government

Government promised to present outline by July, then voted against bill to provide assistance. Since then, nothing has been done.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

The site of the tragedy
The site of the tragedy
David Cohen/Flash90

Almost half a year has passed since the Meron disaster, in which 45 people lost their lives on Mount Meron on Lag Ba’omer. Ninety days have passed since the government promised to formulate an outline for providing economic aid to the families of the victims – not one of which has received a penny from the government to this day.

Legislation to provide financial assistance to the families was first proposed by MK Yaakov Asher (United Torah Judaism) in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy and was supported by Knesset members from almost all parties. The National Insurance Institute (Bituach Leumi) also presented an outline for a grant to be paid to each of the families – each one would receive NIS 100,000, while the two families that lost more than one family member would receive NIS 260,000 each.

When the “government for change” took office, the new coalition committed itself to attending to the issue, and the new head of the Knesset’s Finance Committee, MK Alex Kushnir (Yisrael Beytenu), promised that a working model would be presented within three weeks.

“We have a responsibility to act as soon as we can and give the families what they deserve,” Kushnir said at the time. “We must take care of these families.”

A month later, however, nothing had been done. It was then that MK Asher put the bill forward for a Knesset vote – and the government voted against it, 59 opposing (including the Prime Minister) versus 55 in favor.

In an attempt to explain the government’s apparent backtracking, Finance Ministry representative Hamed Amar said that the government “needed time to formulate an appropriate response while examining the budgetary implications.”

That was three months ago, and the “appropriate response” is yet to be forthcoming. MK Yaakov Asher has now written a letter to the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, demanding immediate action to rectify the situation.

“Over ninety days have passed during which nothing was done; the Finance Ministry has not transferred the promised funds, and the government has not held a single discussion on the issue,” he writes.

“The disgrace is even more blatant given that the Knesset is now discussing the state budget, with billions of shekels allocated for all kinds of purposes,” he adds.

MK Asher accuses the government of “hypocrisy … making cynical use of the tragedy to attack the previous government and then abandoning the families and leaving them to cope on their own, without assistance.”

MK Asher, whose party is in the opposition, also promises in his letter that any proposal brought by the government that will genuinely help the families will be supported by the opposition parties, and calls on the government “to take immediate action to redress this ongoing injustice.”