Israel: numerous victims of a nightly religious pilgrimage

At least 38 people died and more than a hundred were injured during a stampede on Mount Meron in northern Israel, Agence France-Presse reports, citing Israeli medical services. The Jerusalem Post reports 44 victims of the tragedy.

At least 10,000 people, mostly ultra-Orthodox Jews, took part in the celebrations of the Lag B’Omer holiday on Mount Meron in Galilee. As a result of the stampede, according to the MDA medical service on Twitter, at least 38 people have died, 10 of the injured more than a hundred injured are in critical condition:

“MDA is fighting for the lives of dozens of casualties, and we will not give up until the last casualty is evacuated.”

According to initial reports, the tribune collapsed, resulting in a crush, and people were simply trampled. According to other sources, the tribune collapsed later. The first footage from the scene of the tragic events shows the rows of dead bodies packed in bags. The relevant services, paramedics, and soldiers of the IDF were involved in the rescue work. Helicopters evacuate heavily injured pilgrims. The Internet works intermittently, so many participants in the tragic holiday cannot get through to their loved ones.

According to eyewitnesses of the tragedy, they realized that people were trampled or simply suffocated only after one of the organizers began to call through a megaphone to immediately dissolve the crowd. One of the pilgrims later told Channel 12:

“Joy turned into mourning, bright light turned into deep darkness.”

Tens of thousands of people gathered for the first holiday after the abolition of restrictive quarantine measures. Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, called the incident “a grave disaster.” The Times of Israel reports that at least 100,000 people attended the event Thursday night, exceeding the government’s 10,000-member limit. Police forces closed the area and ordered all pilgrims to leave the city immediately.

The annually held holiday gathers thousands of people near the burial place of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, the most prominent Jewish teacher of the law, who lived in the II century. ad. He is considered the founder of the Kabbalistic teaching. Last year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Lag B’Omer holiday was canceled, but they decided to hold it this year. Usually the event is accompanied by dancing, making fires, chants. Friday, informs Air force, more believers were to arrive at Mount Meron.

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