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Dozens hurt in bleacher collapse at Israeli synagogue

JERUSALEM ((DailyNews)) — Israeli medics said Sunday that dozens of people were injured in a bleacher collapse at an uncompleted synagogue in a West Bank settlement near Jerusalem.

Amateur footage 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.

The Magen David Adom rescue service said 54 people were injured, including five seriously hurt and four in moderate condition. The injured were evacuated to Jerusalem-area hospitals.

The Israeli military said in a statement that it 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 the police had ignored previous calls to take action. Jerusalem police chief Doron Turgeman 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, and therefore let alone holding events in it.”

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

The accident comes weeks after a stampede at a religious festival in northern Israel that 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.

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