Dozens killed at religious festival in Israel

At least 45 people have died in a stampede at a Jewish religious festival in northern Israel, authorities said on Friday. Dozens more wounded people were taken to six different hospitals. Some 150 people were injured according to Magen David Adom rescue group.

Israel's PM Benjamin Netanyahu travelled to the site in the town of Meron where he met police and others involved in rescue efforts. He announced a full investigation into the incident.

The event was attended by tens of thousands of people, making it the largest gathering in Israel since the coronavirus pandemic began. Emergency officials said 38 people were in critical condition at the site, with six more critically injured but evacuated and scores more wounded less seriously.

Early reports suggested a structure at the site collapsed, but officials later said it was the result of a stampede. According to police sources, it started after some attendees slipped on some steps, causing dozens more to fall. "It happened in a split second; people just fell, trampling each other. It was a disaster," a witness told the Haaretz newspaper.

Dozens of ambulances attended the scene and emergency services laid out bodies under foil covers on the ground. Police asked everyone at the site to evacuate.

Tens of thousands of Orthodox Jews make a pilgrimage to Meron each year for Lag B'Omer, an annual religious holiday marked with all-night bonfires, prayer and dancing. The town is the site of the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, a second-century sage, and is considered to be one of the holiest sites in the Jewish world. According to the Times of Israel, organisers estimated that 100,000 people arrived on Thursday night, with more due to arrive on Friday.

Similar articles

  • Bashar al-Assad sworn in for a fourth seven-year term as Syria’s president

    Bashar al-Assad sworn in for a fourth seven-year term as Syria’s president

    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Saturday was sworn in for a fourth seven-year term, after a controversial May election dismissed by Europe and the US as "neither free nor fair", news wires reported. In May he won 95.1% of valid votes that were cast in the election held in government-controlled areas, according to official figures. Assad's father Hafez al-Assad led Syria for some 30 years.

    55
  • EU, US call for quick government formation in Lebanon as tension rises

    EU, US call for quick government formation in Lebanon as tension rises

    Tension intensified in Lebanon on Friday, with riots leaving more than two dozen people injured in the northern city of Tripoli, including five soldiers who were attacked with a hand grenade, news wires reported. Lebanon’s Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri stepped down on Thursday over disagreements with the president on the shape of the Cabinet. Hariri did not endorse anyone else to take the post. Hundreds of his supporters rioted in the streets, blocked major roads and hurled stones.

    48