Today is a day of national mourning in Israel following the deaths of dozens of people at a religious feast last Friday. As a result of panic among the massively present believers, 45 people were crushed to death, including at least ten children. Flags are half-pole on all official buildings and Israeli diplomatic posts worldwide.
In Tel Aviv, a vigil was held last night for the victims. The City Hall was illuminated with the flag of Israel. As a tribute, the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem were illuminated with the words: “Jerusalem shares in the grief of the families who have lost their loved ones”.
During the celebration of Lag Baomer on the northern Meronberg, panic broke out among thousands of Orthodox Jews due to an unknown cause. The crowd started running, victims were pressed to death. Eyewitnesses spoke, according to international media, about “a pyramid of bodies” in a narrow corridor with a smooth metal floor.
Authorities authorized 10,000 attendees, but according to the organization, many more people arrived at the party – according to some estimates it involved more than 100,000 people. The Times of Israel spoke earlier about ‘the biggest event since the outbreak of corona’.
The identification process was shut down for 24 hours on Friday night because of the Sabbath. According to The Jerusalem Post, the identity of all people is now known. The youngest victim is a 9-year-old boy.
Many Israelis are wondering why the government allowed so many people to come together at the place of pilgrimage. Critics accuse demissionary Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for trying to spawn religious parties. In Israel, information talks are taking place for a new government, in which religious parties can play a key role.
Those parties, in turn, would be angry because the security services would have failed.
How the celebration could get so out of hand is still to be seen. Experts have been warning for years that the religious feast is a danger because of the large masses of people and narrow passages. In 2008, a government inspection service came to the same conclusion.
The Department of Justice has begun an investigation into possible misconduct by officers. Police barricades blocked the flow in crucial places, claims a number of eyewitnesses.
Statations of support
Several world leaders have expressed their support. American President Joe Biden said in a telephone conversation with Netanyahu that he prays “for those who have lost a loved one”. British Prime Minister Johnson and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have also expressed their condolences.