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It was a very emotional sight as flags were flown at half-mast Sunday as Israel held a national day of mourning for 45 men and boys killed in a stampede at a packed Jewish festival last week.
The deadly crush on Friday night at Mount Meron in northern Israel has been described as one of the worst peacetime disasters since the nation’s founding in 1948.
At least 16 children and teens figured among those killed.
The fatalities included nine foreign nationals from the US, Canada, Argentina, and the UK, as well as two French-Israeli brothers, both minors.
The stampede broke out as tens of thousands of mostly ultra-Orthodox Jews thronged the reputed tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai to commemorate the second-century Talmudic sage’s death and mark Lag BaOmer holidays.
Defence Minister Benny Gantz, who is also caretaker justice minister, Sunday asked the attorney general to examine whether the current transitional government could launch a state commission of inquiry, Israel’s highest level of investigation.
‘Only a state commission of inquiry could take into account all elements of the disaster since it has the broadest authority and tools to make the necessary recommendations,’ Gantz said in a letter distributed to reporters.
Netanyahu has pledged a full investigation and multiple lawmakers have called for a formal commission of inquiry.
With the blue-and-white Israeli flag lowered outside public buildings, army bases and overseas embassies’ call for accountability were mounting Sunday.
‘Take Responsibility,‘ read the headline in Yediot Aharonot daily, listing a range of officials with questions to answer.
AFRICA DAILY NEWS, NEW YORK