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PM’s Purported Pawn Promises Purposeful Probe, Panned for Playing Politics

Israel’s State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman on Monday announced he had launched an inquiry into last week’s Mount Meron crowd-crush disaster, in which 45 ultra-Orthodox men and boys were killed and dozens were injured at an annual Jewish festival in northern Israel. Englman joins two other police investigative units who have already begun to probe the incident. “This was a catastrophe that was avoidable,” he said. “Now it’s on us to see how and why it wasn’t prevented.” Despite promising to address “personal responsibilities,” alluding to government ministers, including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who pressured police into allowing an unlimited number of people into the complex, Englman’s announcement on Monday was sharply criticized as benefiting Netanyahu and his officials. The prime minister personally lobbied for the state comptroller to be appointed in 2019 and the latter has since repaid him by closing the office’s political corruption unit and installing a “constructive criticism” approach. A national commission of inquiry – a more critical and potent investigative body formed after major public disasters in Israel – is now unlikely to be established.