Tzviki Tessler
Tzviki TesslerINN

Brigadier General Tzviki Tessler, who was in charge of the 2022 Lag B'Omer celebrations in Meron, testified before the State Commission of Inquiry into the 2021 Meron Disaster in which 45 people were killed.

Tessler said, citing several biblical principles, that "we were successful in 'avoiding evil' with the necessary safety rules but we were less successful in 'doing good'. The celebration was not happy, at least not in comparison with previous years. The public service was not good enough. The event this year did not flow. Period There were frequent stops of the movement to the mountain and of the music on the mountain."

"The rationale was that stopping the music reduces the intensity of the disturbances," Tessler said. Judge Deborah Berliner asked "Who can order the music to stop?" Tessler replied, "Everyone, including the producer who is in charge of safety at the event, if he sees it as important."

''My familiarity with Meron is only partial, so from the moment I was appointed by the government I learned the subject on the job, and under time pressure from the beginning of January. I have read in depth the committee's interim recommendations, and I think it will be worth preserving them in the future as well, despite all sorts of problems that have arisen, and there have been many such," he said.

On the prevention of bonfires and other such events, Tessler said: "Among other things, it included funding problems. Nearly 20 hasdic groups wanted to have bonfires and celebrations, but many of them did not reach the application stage at all. In my opinion it is because they saw the complicated process, such as building permits that I did not think were needed. In my opinion, it also affected the intensity of the violence during the celebration."

''The fact that celebrations and hasidic events were not approved as we recommended, raised the intensity of public outrage and may have led to the break-in at the tomb. The celebration was safe, but the state should make an effort for the event to be happy as well.

He commented on the police decision to stop the flow of celebrants to Mount Meron and said: "I was not happy because I think it harmed the celebration. I certainly was not happy about it."

On the ticket sale process, Tessler said: "I think in the test of the result the public stayed on average about three and a half hours [at Meron], based on the fact that there were no events and food distribution in the mountain area."