Dozens of people were killed in a drowning at a religious bonfire festival in Israel on Friday, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described as a “grave disaster”.
Tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews gathered at the tomb of the wise 2nd century rabbi Shimon Bar Yocha in Galilee each year for Lag B’Omer memorial services, which include all-night prayer, mystical songs, and dancing.
The ecstatic crowd rolled down the slope of Mount Meron, despite a warning from health officials to Covide. Witnesses said people were suffocating or trampling in the transition, some unnoticed while the PA system called for dispersal.
Police sources told Haaretz that the shooting started after some people slipped down the stairs, causing dozens of people to fall.
Videos posted on social media show thousands of people gathering at the event and then fighting to avoid confusion.
“We thought there might be a bomb signal about a suspicious package. No one imagined it could happen here. The rejoicing became mourning, the great light became deep darkness, “the pilgrim gave his name to Channel 12. ,
“Rabbi Shimon was saying that he could liberate the world….
The ambulance service of Magen David Adom said 103 people were injured, including dozens of dead. The death toll on Channel 12 was 40.
They included children, witnesses said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it a “grave disaster”, adding on Twitter: “We all pray for the health of the victims.”
The Lag B’Omer event was supposed to be one of the largest gatherings of people near Mount Meron, certainly in Israel և, possibly further away.
When the rescuers were trying to extort the victims, the police had closed off the area and ordered the guests. The Ministry of Transport has stopped road works in the area to allow ambulances and pilgrims’ buses to move freely. Military helicopters transported some of the victims to hospitals.
The tomb of Mount Meron is considered one of the holiest sites in the Jewish world, it is an annual place of pilgrimage.
Videos posted on social media showed chaotic scenes where ultra-Orthodox men tore open cracks in corrugated iron sheets to avoid crushing. The bodies were lying on stretchers in the hallway, covered with foil.
Last year, private fires on Mount Meron were banned due to coronavirus restrictions, but the blockade was eased this year by Israel’s Covid-19 rapid vaccination program, which vaccinated more than 50 percent of the population.