icon bookmark-bicon bookmarkicon cameraicon checkicon chevron downicon chevron lefticon chevron righticon chevron upicon closeicon v-compressicon downloadicon editicon v-expandicon fbicon fileicon filtericon flag ruicon full chevron downicon full chevron lefticon full chevron righticon full chevron upicon gpicon insicon mailicon moveicon-musicicon mutedicon nomutedicon okicon v-pauseicon v-playicon searchicon shareicon sign inicon sign upicon stepbackicon stepforicon swipe downicon tagicon tagsicon tgicon trashicon twicon vkicon yticon wticon fm

May 2 declared ‘day of national mourning’ in Israel after 45 die in stampede at Jewish religious festival

May 2 declared ‘day of national mourning’ in Israel after 45 die in stampede at Jewish religious festival
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said May 2 will be a day of mourning for the dozens killed in a stampede during a religious event on Friday. A watchdog had warned that the site was not suited for large gatherings.

The deadly stampede occurred when worshippers gathered to pray and dance in celebration of Lag B’Omer, a Jewish religious bonfire festival, at Mount Meron in Israel’s Upper Galilee region. Around 90,000 people, mostly ultra-Orthodox Jews, were present at Meron, according to the Jerusalem Post. The death toll currently stands at 45, with over a hundred injured.

The prime minister visited the site of the tragedy later on Friday. “I ask on Sunday to announce a day of national mourning. We will all join in the grief of the families and in prayer for the wounded,” he told reporters.

Netanyahu urged people not to spread rumors on social media, because “many” of the victims have not yet been identified. He thanked first responders for preventing “a much larger disaster,” and promised to launch a detailed investigation.

Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin lit 45 memorial candles at his residence, honoring each victim.

The stampede was described by local media as one of Israel’s worst peacetime tragedies.

Blood donation sites were opened across the country. Authorities set up a mental health hotline, and a separate number for those looking for lost loved ones.

It was not immediately clear what had prompted the stampede, though it appears that the narrow access paths were crammed with people, which had led to the loss of life.

Videos from the scene show scores of people leaving the venue built around the tomb of ancient Judea’s Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.

Haaretz newspaper cited reports by the State Controller’s Office from 2008 and 2011, which warned that the site was not properly equipped for large gatherings.

One report said that the building additions and changes made to the site had been done without the approval of local planning and building committees. The watchdog noted that “the access roads and paths are narrow and not appropriate to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of people who visit the site.”

Also on rt.com At least 44 killed, 150+ injured in STAMPEDE at crowded bonfire festival in Israel

Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!