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2021 Meron stampede

Multi-casualty crush incident in Israel at public religious event

Top 9 2021 Meron stampede related articles

2021 Meron stampede
Tomb of Rabbi Bar-Yochai
Date30 April 2021 (2021-04-30)
Timec. 00:50 (Israel Summer Time)
LocationMeron, Israel
Coordinates32°58′50.3″N 35°26′25.5″E / 32.980639°N 35.440417°E / 32.980639; 35.440417Coordinates: 32°58′50.3″N 35°26′25.5″E / 32.980639°N 35.440417°E / 32.980639; 35.440417
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 in Meron, Israel, during the annual Mount Meron pilgrimage on the Jewish holiday of Lag BaOmer, at which about 100,000 people were in attendance. Forty-five people were killed, and more than 150 injured, dozens of them critically, making it the deadliest civil disaster in the history of Israel.[1][2] Most of the victims at the sex-segregated event were men or boys.[3] The crush occurred after celebrants poured out of one section of the mountainside compound, down a passageway with a sloping metal floor wet with spilled drinks, leading to a staircase continuing down. Witnesses say that people tripped and slipped near the top of the stairs. Those behind, unaware of the blockage ahead, continued, crushing the people further down.[4][5]

The potential for such a calamity, given the tens of thousands of celebrants, had been reported by the state controller and the police chief. The local council had tried several times to close the site.[4] Reuters cited Israeli media outlets in reporting that, as a precaution against the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, bonfire areas had been partitioned off, which may have created choke-points that were not taken into account.[6]

Background

Police preparations for Simeon bar Yochai celebration in Mount Meron, May 2016

Many Jews, mostly Haredi, 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.[7] Both men and women attend, with women in a separate women's section.[8]

It is Israel's biggest religious festival of the year.[9] In 2020, the country 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 COVID-19.[10] The event was the largest to be held in Israel since the start of the pandemic in 2020.[11]

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.[12] The number of people permitted to the bonfire lighting was limited to 10,000 people,[1] but approximately 100,000 had arrived at the site,[13] which was larger than the restricted crowd in 2020 but smaller than the hundreds of thousands of people in previous years.[11] Israeli media reported that, as a precaution against the COVID-19 pandemic, bonfire areas had been partitioned off, which may have created choke-points that were not taken into account.[6]

The crush was not the first time pilgrims at Mount Meron had been killed in an accident: on 15 May 1911, eleven people were killed when a crowd of about 10,000 filled the compound and a railing of a nearby overlook collapsed. About 100 people fell from a height of roughly 25 feet to the ground below,[9] the deaths of seven were determined at the scene and of four others in the days following the incident. There were 40 injured.[14]

Safety warnings

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.[15][16] A 2016 Police report warned of issues with infrastructure and crowd control.[17]

In 2011, the state declared it would take control over the site,[18] but a high court ruling reversed the move in 2020.[19]

2021 Meron stampede Background articles: 10

Crush

According to witness accounts, the event was held in a fenced area described as "overly confining".[20] Close to midnight, some participants began to slip and fall on stone steps near a narrow corridor with a metal ramped surface, and others fell on top of them because of severe overcrowding.[7][11][20] As the crowd moved to the gates, a crush started.[1][20] According to one witness, security blocked the passageway and kept people from exiting. As people were starting to faint from immense overcrowding, police finally opened the gates to allow people through. The crush ensued as a large number of people tried to exit at the same time through the narrow passageway.[21] The wet and slippery metal stairs also caused people to fall on top of each other.[22][4] In the crush, 45 people were killed and at least 150 more were injured.[1][23][24] Most of the dead belonged to the Toldot Aharon Hasidic sect.[25] Several of the victims are believed to be from foreign countries.[3]

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 injured.[1] Three hundred rescue buses were prevented from entering the site due to blocked access roads.[26] Six helicopters were flown in to evacuate the injured. Cell phone service crashed due to the number of people trying to get in contact with their families.[1]

2021 Meron stampede Crush articles: 2

Aftermath

IDF personnel after the disaster

The crush is under investigation. Israeli police said the crush was unpreventable and that the location was being inspected for structural flaws, but the scenario of people slipping on stairs was out of police control.[27] Police Northern commander Shimon Lavi said that he bears full responsibility.[28][29] Police released a statement that the passage was authorized by all authorities and that they had understood the event would be abnormally large.[29]

The crush was one of the deadliest civilian disasters to occur in Israeli 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.[30] Netanyahu declared 2 May 2021 a national day of mourning.[31] Several cultural activities were cancelled.[32] President Reuven Rivlin offered his condolences to the victims.[33]

Israeli police had identified the bodies of 32 of the dead by 1 May.[3]

Condolences were issued by officials from several countries, Argentina,[34] Bahrain,[35] Belgium,[36] Canada,[37] Egypt,[38] the European Union,[39] France,[40] Georgia,[41] Germany,[42] Italy,[43] Jordan, the Palestinian Authority,[44] Spain,[45] Turkey,[46] the United Arab Emirates,[47] the United Kingdom[48] and the United States.[27][49]

The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs thanked those who offered condolences.[50]

El Al Airlines announced that until May 4th up to two first-degree family members of each deceased person could fly to Israel for free from the US, France, the UK and any country from which El Al operates direct flights.[51]

2021 Meron stampede Aftermath articles: 4

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Joffre, Tzvi. "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 c "Israel crush: Israel mourns as festival crush victims identified". BBC News. 1 May 2021.
  4. ^ a b c Kershner, Isabel (30 April 2021). "Israel Mourns After a Religious Festival Turns Into Disaster". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 30 April 2021.
  5. ^ "How the deadly Israel stampede unfolded". Sky News. Retrieved 30 April 2021.
  6. ^ a b Williams, Dan; Rabinovitch, Ari (30 April 2021). "Israel seeks to identify many of 45 dead in crush at religious festival". Reuters.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ Liphshiz, Cnaan (30 April 2021). "Why do ultra-Orthodox Jews flock to Mount Meron on Lag B'Omer?". Times of Israel.
  9. ^ a b Maltz, Judy (30 April 2021). "Why do Orthodox Jews flock to the Mt. Meron tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar-Yochai?". Haaretz.com.
  10. ^ Schwartz, Felicia (29 April 2021). "Dozens Killed in Stampede at Israeli Religious Festival". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 30 April 2021.
  11. ^ 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)
  12. ^ "44 הרוגים ויותר מ-100 פצועים בהילולה בהר מירון". Ynet (in Hebrew). 29 April 2021.
  13. ^ "44 people crushed to death, dozens hurt at mass Lag B'Omer event in Mt. Meron". The Times of Israel. 30 April 2021.
  14. ^ Israel, David (30 April 2021). "The Tragedy on Mt. Meron, Lag B'Omer 1911".
  15. ^ "מבקר המדינה מצא ליקויים בקבר הרשב"י כבר לפני 12 שנה: "אין לאפשר את המצב הקיים"". ynet. 30 April 2021.
  16. ^ "News1 מחלקה ראשונה". www.news1.co.il.
  17. ^ JAFFE-HOFFMAN, MAAYAN (1 May 2021). "After Meron tragedy: How to survive a crowd crush". The Jerusalem Post.
  18. ^ "הממשלה החליטה להלאים את קבר הרשב"י". Haaretz הארץ.
  19. ^ "המהלך להפקעת מתחם קבר הרשבי במירון נעצר; במקומו – הסדר ל-3 שנים". www.nadlancenter.co.il.
  20. ^ 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.
  21. ^ "Justice Ministry To Open Probe Into Possible Police Negligence At Meron". 30 April 2021.
  22. ^ "Stampede at religious festival in Israel kills at least 45". Stars and Stripes.
  23. ^ Benari, Elad. "44 people killed in mass stampede of people during Lag Ba'Omer celebrations in Meron". Israel National News. Retrieved 30 April 2021.
  24. ^ 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.
  25. ^ "Lag Ba'omer: What's Toldot Aharon, hassidic sect whose members were killed?". The Jerusalem Post. 30 April 2021.
  26. ^ ""המשטרה לא פינתה צירים; שוטרים הצילו חיים"". kikar.co.il (in Hebrew).
  27. ^ a b 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.
  28. ^ "Meron exit route was known for years as bottleneck; police commander takes blame". Times of Israel.
  29. ^ a b "במשטרה הודפים האשמות: "כולם אישרו את שביל הגישה, המדינה אחראית"". Ynet (in Hebrew). 30 April 2021.
  30. ^ Krauss, Joseph (29 April 2021). "Stampede at Israeli religious festival kills nearly 40". Associated Press. Retrieved 30 April 2021.
  31. ^ "As Meron deaths rise to 45, PM declares Sunday day of mourning, vows full probe". The Times of Israel. 30 April 2021. Retrieved 30 April 2021.
  32. ^ "בעקבות האסון במירון: ביטולי הופעות בעולם התרבות". ynet (in Hebrew). 30 April 2021. Retrieved 30 April 2021.
  33. ^ 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.
  34. ^ "Tragedia en Israel: hay un joven argentino entre los muertos por la estampida" [Tragedy in Israel: a young Argentine is among those killed by the stampede]. La Nación (in Spanish). 30 April 2021. Retrieved 30 April 2021.
  35. ^ "Bahrain sends condolences to Israel over Mt. Meron deaths". The Times of Israel. 30 April 2021. Retrieved 1 May 2021.
  36. ^ @Sophie_Wilmes (30 April 2021). "The tragedy at the Lag Ba'omer pilgrimage in #Israel #MountMeron affects the whole country. We stand with the people of Israel and extend our deepest condolences to the families and the friends of the victims. We wish the injured a speedy recovery" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  37. ^ "Canada expresses condolences to Israel following Lag B'Omer tragedy". Global Affairs Canada. 30 April 2021. Retrieved 1 May 2021.
  38. ^ "Egypt offers condolences over victims of Israel's Mount Meron stampede". State Information Service. 30 April 2021. Retrieved 1 May 2021.
  39. ^ @EGiaufretEU (30 April 2021). "Deeply saddened by the terrible news of injuries and deaths at Lag Ba'omer celebration on Mount Meron. My heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and wishes of speedy recovery to all those that were injured" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  40. ^ @francediplo_EN (30 April 2021). "We extend our sincere condolences to the families and close friends of those killed and wish the injured a speedy recovery. We assure the Israeli people of our wholehearted solidarity at this extremely difficult time" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  41. ^ Kartozia, Marika (30 April 2021). "Georgian PM extends condolences to Israel for the Mount Meron tragedy". First Channel. Retrieved 1 May 2021.
  42. ^ @GermanyDiplo (30 April 2021). "The news reaching us this morning of the tragedy at the Lag B'Omer holiday on Mt. Meron in #Israel are devastating. Our thoughts are with the victims' families and loved ones" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  43. ^ @ItalyMFA (30 April 2021). "Shocked and saddened by the tragic event at #MountMeron during Lag Ba'Omer celebrations. We express our deepest condolences to #Israel and its people. Our thoughts are with the families and friends of the victims and with those injured to whom we wish a speedy recovery" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  44. ^ "Palestinian leader Abbas, Jordan's king, Gulf allies send condolences over Meron". Times of Israel. 30 April 2021. Retrieved 1 May 2021.
  45. ^ @SpainMFA (30 April 2021). "In connection with the tragedy on Mount Meron, with more than 40 people killed and a considerable number of injuries, Spain expresses its deepest condolences to the Government of #Israel and to the families and friends of the deceased, and wishes those injured a speedy recovery" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  46. ^ "Press Release Regarding the Casualties on Mount Meron in the North of Israel". Turkey's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Press release). 30 April 2021. Retrieved 30 April 2021.
  47. ^ Bashir, Hassan (30 April 2021). "Abdullah bin Zayed condoles Israel's FM over Mount Meron incident". Emirates News Agency (Press release). Retrieved 1 May 2021.
  48. ^ Varga, John (1 May 2021). "Queen 'deeply saddened' by Israel tragedy after at least 45 killed in festival stampede". Express.co.uk.
  49. ^ @JakeSullivan46 (30 April 2021). "Our hearts go out to the people of Israel tonight following the terrible tragedy at Mount Meron. We offer our condolences to the families and friends who lost loved ones in this disaster, and wish a full and swift recovery to those injured" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  50. ^ "The MFA thanks the many well-wishers who offered their condolences following the Mount Meron disaster". mfa.gov.il. 30 April 2021. Retrieved 1 May 2021.
  51. ^ "אל על מציעה למשפחות אסון מירון שבחו"ל: טוסו לארץ ושלמו מיסי נמל בלבד - וואלה! תיירות". Walla! (in Hebrew). 30 April 2021. Retrieved 1 May 2021.

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