Two Jewish worshippers killed, over 150 injured in occupied West Bank bleacher collapse at Synagogue


Israeli medics say two people are dead and more than 150 injured in a bleacher collapse at a West Bank synagogue. The bleacher was packed with worshippers and collapsed during prayers at the beginning of a major Jewish holiday.

At least two worshippers were killed and more than 150 injured on Sunday when a grandstand collapsed in a synagogue under construction in a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank, Israel’s national ambulance service said.

Amateur footage showed the stands collapsing during prayers at the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Shavuot. The synagogue in Givat Zeev, just north of Jerusalem, was filled with hundreds of ultra-Orthodox worshippers.

A police spokesman said 650 worshippers were at the Givat worship site for the start of the Jewish holiday of Shavuot.

The event was held in a partially constructed synagogue. The local mayor and senior fire brigade and police officers said it had gone ahead despite the lack of a permit and official warnings that the building zone was unsafe.

A spokesman for the Magen David Adom ambulance service said at least two people were killed. Ambulances and military helicopters ferried the injured to hospitals.

Security footage broadcast on Channel 12 TV showed a crowded grandstand collapsing and worshippers falling on top of each other.

“We were called again to another event where there was negligence and a lack of responsibility. There will be arrests,” Jerusalem District police chief Doron Turgeman said from the scene, on live TV.

The accident came weeks after a stampede at a religious festival in northern Israel killed 45 ultra-Orthodox Jews.

The 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.