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Israeli paramedics: 2 dead, over 150 injured in synagogue bleacher collapse

Israeli medics said two people were dead and more than 150 injured after a bleacher collapsed at an uncompleted West Bank synagogue.

The bleacher was packed with ultra-Orthodox worshipers and collapsed during prayers at the beginning of a major Jewish holiday. A spokesman for Magen David Adom told Channel 13 that paramedics had treated over 157 people for injuries and pronounced two others dead, a man in his 50s and a 12-year-old boy.

Rescue workers were treating the injured and taking people to the hospital. The collapse came weeks after 45 ultra-Orthodox Jews were killed in a stampede at a religious festival in northern Israel.

Amateur video showed the collapse occurring during prayers Sunday evening in Givat Zeev, just outside Jerusalem, at the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Shavuot. The ultra-Orthodox synagogue was packed with hundreds of people.

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The Israeli military said in a statement that it had dispatched medics and other search-and-rescue troops to assist at the scene. Army helicopters were airlifting the injured.

Israeli authorities traded blame at the scene of the disaster.

The mayor of Givat Zeev said the building was unfinished and dangerous, and that police had ignored previous calls to take action. Doron Turgeman, Jerusalem’s police chief, said the disaster was a case of “negligence” and that there would likely be arrests.

Deddi Simhi, head of the Israel Fire and Rescue service, told Israel’s Channel 12 that “this building is not finished. It doesn’t even have a permit for occupancy ... let alone holding events in it.”

Television footage from the scene showed the building was incomplete, with exposed concrete and boards visible.

The earlier deadly stampede triggered renewed criticism over the broad autonomy granted to the country’s politically powerful ultra-Orthodox minority.

Last year, many ultra-Orthodox communities flouted coronavirus safety restrictions, contributing to high outbreak rates in their communities and angering the broader secular public.


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