Tragedy in Israel, crowds at the religious event: 44 dead and 150 wounded
Tel Aviv – At least 44 people lost their lives and 150 were injured as a result of a crowd that was created during the religious event of Lag b’Omer on Mount Meron, in Israel. Among the victims, there are also children. The Israeli prime minister speaks of “a terrible disaster” referring to the consequences of what was the first major event authorized by the coronavirus emergency, with the participation of 100 thousand people according to the police. Channel 12 explained that operations to identify the victims are underway.
It is a “national catastrophe”, said Motti Buckchin, spokesman for the Zaka rescue services, the equivalent of our civil protection, at the Ynet site. “It is an unbearable accident – said Buckchin – 44 people who wanted to feel joy returned in body bags. For 44 families the world has collapsed. Now we can’t go back to work as usual ”.
The identification of the victims and the evacuation of the faithful are underway at the site of the tragedy, while the media report that the search for missing persons is underway. At least six people are hospitalized in serious condition. Two children were also admitted.
Northern District Police Force Commander Shimon Lavi, who oversaw security arrangements at Mount Meron, said he was taking responsibility for the disaster. “I have general responsibility, for better or for worse, and I am ready to submit to any investigation,” he told reporters.
The causes that provoked the tragedy on Mount Meron, which began at around 1 am during the lighting of the bonfire for Toldos Aharon hasidim, are not yet known. The pilgrims stood near the tomb of the second-century sage Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai, amidst a huge and densely packed crowd, as the Jerusalem Post indicates. The police underline the overcrowding due to the presence of about 100 thousand people, including children.
Overcrowding caused some people to slip, while others fell on them, causing a stampede, according to a Channel 12 report. Police tried to hold back the escape, as appears from videos posted on Twitter. Some witnesses accused the police of blocking the exit.
Jake Sullivan, National Security Advisor to US President Joe Biden, tweeted the US closeness to Jerusalem over the Mount Meron tragedy. “Our hearts go out to the people of Israel after the terrible tragedy of Mount Meron. We extend our condolences to the families and friends who have lost loved ones in this disaster and with a full and speedy recovery to the wounded, ”Sullivan wrote.