Soldier killed, seven hurt as lighting rig collapses on Mount Herzl

JERUSALEM (JWN)—Second Lieutenant Hila Bezaleli, 20, was crushed to death and seven of her fellow officers were injured, one critically, Wednesday afternoon, when a steel lighting rig collapsed on soldiers rehearsing for next week’s Independence Day performance on Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl.

Soldiers taking part in the rehearsal had warned some 20 minutes before the collapse that the lighting rig appeared unstable, but their calls were ignored. Witnesses said they saw the rig—a steel latticework structure nearly 20 meters high that extended across the entire performance area—start to shake in strong gusts of wind and then fall.

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said later on Wednesday that, despite the grief and the hurt caused by the incident, Holocaust Remembrance Day and Independence Day ceremonies on Mount Herzl would go ahead as planned.

Police have arrested four suspects in connection with the disaster: the two owners of the Itzuv Bama company that assembled the lighting rig, the company engineer, and a security consultant. They are reportedly to be charged with causing death by negligence, forgery, and accepting bribes.

Bezaleli’s mother is the assistant manager of the Mount Herzl site and was working there when the rig collapsed. An officer in the Home Front Command, Bezaleli was to participate in the color guard of the ceremony kicking off Independence Day. Instead, she was laid to rest at the Mount Herzl Military Cemetery late Wednesday night. Hundreds of people attended the funeral.