Two Killed, Dozens Injured After Structure Collapses in West Bank Synagogue

The synagogue in Givat Ze'ev, near Jerusalem, was under construction. Hundreds of worshippers gathered there at the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Shavuot

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The collapsed stands in Givat Ze'ev, today.
The collapsed stands in Givat Ze'ev, today.Credit: Josh Breiner

At least two people were killed on Sunday and dozens injured, some critically, when a grandstand seating area collapsed in a crowded synagogue in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank.

The incident occurred in Givat Ze'ev, north of Jerusalem, in a synagogue that was still under construction. Television footage from the scene showed the building was incomplete, with exposed concrete and boards visible.

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Emergency medical teams reported 184 casualties overall, including six in serious condition and 10 in moderate condition. The remaining 168 are said to be lightly injured.

A police spokesman said 650 worshippers were in the synagogue at the time, for the start of the Jewish holiday of Shavuot.

The local government, police and fire and rescue services all dodged responsibility for approving the event, which was publicized over the past days, despite the fact the building was still under construction.

Wounded from the West Bank synagogue rushed to a Jerusalem hospital, today.Credit: Emil Salman

Amateur footage showed the collapse occurring during prayers at the synagogue, affiliated with the Karlin Hasidic dynasty, at the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Shavuot.

One of the worshippers told Haaretz the synagogue reopened on Sunday for its first service.

The accident comes weeks after a stampede at a religious festival in northern Israel that killed 45 ultra-Orthodox Jews, triggering renewed criticism over the broad autonomy granted to the country’s politically powerful ultra-Orthodox minority.

Mayor Yossi Avrahami said the building was improvised and dangerous, and that the police ignored calls to take action, while a regional police commander said they didn't approve the event.

"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.

Forty-five Jewish pilgrims were crushed to death on Israel's Mount Meron on May 1 in a stampede in a narrow passageway during annual celebrations at the burial site of a Jewish sage.

Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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