Meron, Israel: At least 38 dead in mass panic on festival

Terrible disaster in northern Israel!

According to rescue workers, at least 38 people were killed in a mass panic at a Jewish festival in northern Israel.

Dozens of people died as a result of the mass panicPhoto: DAVID COHEN / AFP

A spokesman for the emergency service Magen David Adom spoke of an “incredible disaster” early Friday morning.

▶ ︎ More than 100 people were injured, many of them life-threatening. The injured were taken to nearby hospitals, some by rescue helicopter. The police tried to clear the premises. Access roads have been cordoned off.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin wrote on Twitter that he was following the reports from Meron and praying for the recovery of the injured.

For the Jewish pilgrims, the festival ended in a terrible catastrophe

For the Jewish pilgrims, the festival ended in a terrible catastrophePhoto: STRINGER / REUTERS

Thousands of ultra-Orthodox had celebrated the Jewish holiday of Lag Baomer in Meron. Before the disaster, videos on social networks showed how people huddled together and sang, danced and jumped in exuberance. The newspaper “Haaretz” reported, citing police circles, that the panic was triggered after people slipped and fell on stairs. The people running behind them then fell. In the first media reports there was talk of the collapse of a grandstand.

Lag Baomer is a festival that commemorates, among other things, the Jewish uprising against the Roman occupiers under rebel leader Bar Kochba. It broke out in 132 and was put down about three years later. According to tradition, an epidemic ended on the day of Lag Baomer, from which numerous Jewish religious students had died at the time.

Rabbi Shimon Bar Jochai, who was also involved in the uprising against the Romans, is buried on Mount Meron. Its place is a place of pilgrimage that thousands visit every year on the holiday. Traditionally, campfires are also lit at this time. Last year, the celebrations were severely restricted due to the corona pandemic.


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