JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Israeli rabbi said the collapse of a parking garage under construction in Tel Aviv that killed six was due to lack of Sabbath observance.
Rabbi Meir Mazuz, the head of the Tunisian Jewish community in Israel, made the comments during a lecture he delivered Saturday night in Bnei Brak, Ynet reported.
“What happened, the disaster this week — nothing like this ever happens. There are engineers, there are smart people, there are inspectors — and dozens of people are buried underground. It all comes because they disrespect Shabbat,” he said, according to Ynet.
“Running away from Shabbat is the largest mistake in the world … prime ministers need to understand that the Shabbat will not forgive … the Almighty gave us a good gift, the Shabbat … you must not harm the Shabbat.”
His remarks came following a government crisis over Saturday repairs to Israel’s railroad.
Haredi Orthodox political parties had called for a halt to the work and threatened to bolt the ruling coalition if it was not cancelled, which could have toppled the government.
The rabbi’s remarks reportedly were directed at state-sponsored work, not individual observance.
He also blamed the pre-launch explosion of Israel’s Amos 6 satellite on Shabbat desecration. The launch was scheduled for Shabbat. He said a previous Amos satellite was deployed successfully because it had not been launched on Shabbat.
Mazuz is the spiritual leader of the Yachad party, founded by former Sephardic Orthodox Shas Party leader Eli Yishai. The party did not receive enough votes in the last election to gain any seats in the Knesset.
Hours before Mazuz spoke, search and rescue workers removed the sixth and last body from the rubble of the collapsed garage.
Three of the dead workers have been named as: Oleg Yakubov, 60, of Tel Aviv; Dennis Dyachenko, 28, a foreign worker from Ukraine, and Ihad Ajhaj, 34, a West Bank Palestinian.
A fourth worker has been identified as Muhammad Dawabsheh, 29, from Duma in the West Bank. He is a relative of the family members who were killed in a July 2015 firebomb attack on their home allegedly by right-wing Jewish extremists.