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2021 Meron stampede

  (Redirected from Mount Meron crush)
Mount Meron stampede
Rabbi Bar-Yochai tomb is located in Northeast Israel
Rabbi Bar-Yochai tomb
Rabbi Bar-Yochai tomb
Date30 April 2021 (2021-04-30)
Timec.00:50 a.m. IDT (21:50 UTC)
LocationMeron, Israel
Coordinates32°58′50″N 35°26′25″E / 32.9806°N 35.4404°E / 32.9806; 35.4404Coordinates: 32°58′50″N 35°26′25″E / 32.9806°N 35.4404°E / 32.9806; 35.4404
CauseDisputed; over-crowding in Lag BaOmer celebration
Participants100,000 Haredi and orthodox Jews
Deaths45
Non-fatal injuries150
InquiriesOngoing

On 30 April 2021 at about 00:50 IDT, a deadly crowd crush occurred during the annual Mount Meron pilgrimage in Israel on the Lag BaOmer holiday. At least 45 people were killed, and more than a hundred injured, dozens of them critically, making it the deadliest civilian disaster in Israeli history.[1][2]

Background

Police preparations to Simeon bar Yochai celebration in Meron, May 2016

Ultra-Orthodox Jews traditionally convene for Lag BaOmer at the grave of the 2nd-century tannaitic rabbi Shimon bar Yochai at Mount Meron to dance and make bonfires.[3] In 2020, Israel restricted the pilgrimage due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Cabinet of Israel permitted the 2021 pilgrimage and waived the COVID-19 cap of 1,000 attendees. This was lifted as part of an agreement with Ministry of Religious Services officials which required attendees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.[4] The event was the largest event to be held in Israel since the start of the pandemic in 2020.[5]

Additionally, for the first time in 13 years, the Mount Meron celebration happened between Thursday and Friday, and the celebration was limited to a window of 14 hours when three bonfires were lit at the same time, each by an Admor, with approximately three thousand people at each bonfire.[6] The site was limited to 10,000 people,[7] but approximately 100,000 had arrived to the site,[8] which was larger than the restricted crowd in 2020 but smaller than the hundreds of thousands of people in previous years.[5]

The stampede was not the first time pilgrims to Mount Meron had been killed in an accident:[9] on 15 May 1911, eleven people were killed when a crowd of about 10,000 filled the compound and a railing of a near overlook collapsed. About 100 people fell from a height of roughly 25 feet to the ground below,[10] the deaths of seven were determined at the scene and of four others in the days following the incident. There were 40 wounded.[11]

A 2008 report of the site by the State Comptroller of Israel concluded that the site is not adequate for the number of annual visitors.[12][13] Following the report in 2011, the state declared it would take control over the site[14] but a ruling reversed the move in 2020.[15]

Stampede

According to witness accounts, the event was held in a fenced area described as "overly confining".[16] Close to midnight, some participants began to slip and fall on stone steps near to a narrow corridor with a metal ramped surface, leading to a panic.[3][5][16] As the crowd rushed to the gates, a stampede started.[7][16] According to one witness security blocked the passageway and denied people from exiting, as people were starting to faint from immense overcrowding police finally opened the gates to allow people through, the stampede ensued as a large number of people tried to exit at the same time through the narrow passageway.[17] The wet and slippery metal stairs also caused people to fall on top of each other.[18][19] Organizers estimated that 100,000 people, the vast majority of whom were Haredi and ultra-Orthodox Jews, arrived on the night of 29 April. In the stampede, at least 45 people were killed and at least 150 more were wounded.[7][20][21] Most of the dead belonged to the Toldot Aharon anti-Zionist hasidic sect.[22]

As medics were trying to reach the injured, former Israeli Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau remained on stage urging calm and reciting psalms for the wounded.[1] Three hundred rescue buses were prevented from entering the site due to blocked access roads.[23] Six helicopters were flown in to evacuate the wounded. Cellphone service crashed due to the number of people trying to get in contact with their loved ones.[1]

Aftermath

The event is under investigation. Israeli police said the event was unpreventable and that the location was inspected for structural flaws but people slipping on stairs was out of police control.[24] Police Northern commander Shimon Lavy stated that he "bears full responsibility".[25] Police released a statement that the passage was authorized by all authorities and that they had understood the event would be abnormally large.[25]

The stampede was one of the deadliest civilian disasters to occur in Israel in history, surpassing the 2010 Mount Carmel forest fire which killed 44.[1] Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it a "great tragedy" and said that everyone was praying for the victims.[26]. Following the event, prime minister Netanyahu declared Sunday, 2 May 2021, a national day of mourning.[27] President Reuven Rivlin offered his condolences to the victims.[28]

Local actions

El Al airlines had announced that first-degree families of the victims or wounded would be given free plane tickets from the UK, US, France, or any other country that has direct flights to Israel by El-Al.[29]

PIBA had announced that a fast entry to the country option was made, to allow families of the deceased or wounded to enter Israel despite the COVID-19 measures.[30]

The municipality of Tamra organized food and water for the stranded people at the mount.[31]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d "Israel works to identify 45 killed in Lag Ba'omer Mount Meron stampede". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 30 April 2021.
  2. ^ ""There are casualties, the event is over!": The moment of the disaster, live from Mount Meron". Ynet (in Hebrew). Retrieved 30 April 2021.
  3. ^ a b Kershner, Isabel; Nagourney, Eric; Ives, Mike (29 April 2021). "Stampede at Israel Religious Celebration Kills at Least 44". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 April 2021.
  4. ^ Schwartz, Felicia (29 April 2021). "Dozens Killed in Stampede at Israeli Religious Festival". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 30 April 2021.
  5. ^ a b c "Israel crush: Dozens killed at Lag B'Omer religious festival". BBC. 30 April 2021. Retrieved 30 April 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ "44 הרוגים ויותר מ-100 פצועים בהילולה בהר מירון". Ynet (in Hebrew). 29 April 2021.
  7. ^ a b c "Israel works to identify 45 killed in Lag Ba'omer Mount Meron stampede". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 30 April 2021.
  8. ^ "44 people crushed to death, dozens hurt at mass Lag B'Omer event in Mt. Meron". The Times of Israel. 30 April 2021.
  9. ^ "Scores Crushed to Death at Packed Lag BaOmer Event in Meron, Israel". Chabad. 29 April 2021. Retrieved 30 April 2021.
  10. ^ "Why do Orthodox Jews flock to the Mt. Meron tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar-Yochai?". Haaretz.com. 30 April 2021.
  11. ^ Israel, David (30 April 2021). "The Tragedy on Mt. Meron, Lag B'Omer 1911".
  12. ^ "מבקר המדינה מצא ליקויים בקבר הרשב"י כבר לפני 12 שנה: "אין לאפשר את המצב הקיים"". ynet. 30 April 2021.
  13. ^ "News1 מחלקה ראשונה". www.news1.co.il.
  14. ^ "הממשלה החליטה להלאים את קבר הרשב"י". Haaretz הארץ.
  15. ^ "המהלך להפקעת מתחם קבר הרשבי במירון נעצר; במקומו – הסדר ל-3 שנים". www.nadlancenter.co.il.
  16. ^ a b c "Stampede at religious festival in Israel leaves at least 45 dead, dozens injured". The Washington Post. 30 April 2021. Retrieved 30 April 2021.
  17. ^ https://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/headlines-breaking-stories/1969696/justice-ministry-to-open-probe-into-possible-police-negligence-at-meron.html
  18. ^ https://www.stripes.com/news/middle-east/religious-festival-stampede-in-israel-kills-45-hurts-dozens-1.671683
  19. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/30/world/middleeast/israel-stampede.html
  20. ^ Benari, Elad. "44 people killed in mass stampede of people during Lag Ba'Omer celebrations in Meron". Israel National News. Retrieved 30 April 2021.
  21. ^ Tal, Amir; Salman, Abeer (29 April 2021). "Dozens killed in crush at religious event in northern Israel, emergency services say". CNN. Retrieved 30 April 2021.
  22. ^ staff, Jerusalem Post (30 April 2021). "Lag Ba'omer: What's Toldot Aharon, hassidic sect whose members were killed?". www.jpost.com.
  23. ^ ""המשטרה לא פינתה צירים; שוטרים הצילו חיים"". kikar.co.il (in Hebrew).
  24. ^ Breiner, Josh; Shpigel, Noa (30 April 2021). "At Least 44 Killed at Overcrowded Lag Ba'Omer Event in Northern Israel". Haaretz. Retrieved 30 April 2021.
  25. ^ a b "במשטרה הודפים האשמות: "כולם אישרו את שביל הגישה, המדינה אחראית"". Ynet (in Hebrew). 30 April 2021.
  26. ^ Krauss, Joseph (29 April 2021). "Stampede at Israeli religious festival kills nearly 40". Associated Press. Retrieved 30 April 2021.
  27. ^ Staff, TOI (30 April 2021). "As Meron deaths rise to 45, PM declares Sunday day of mourning, vows full probe". Retrieved 30 April 2021. Unknown parameter |word= ignored
  28. ^ Shpigel, Noa; Breiner, Josh (30 April 2021). "At Least 45 Crushed to Death at Lag Ba'Omer Disaster in Northern Israel". Haaretz. Retrieved 30 April 2021.
  29. ^ Channel 12
  30. ^ Gali Tzahal, 13:00 , 30 April 2021, Israel
  31. ^ Channel 13, 30 April 2021 Israel

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