At least 45 people were killed and over 150 others injured after a stampede broke out at a religious festival attended by tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel, medical officials said on Friday, in what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called a “terrible disaster” and promised a thorough probe into the country’s worst peacetime tragedy.
The mass gathering was organised to celebrate the Lag B’Omer, an annual religious holiday marked with all-night bonfires, prayer and dancing, at Mount Meron. 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.
Tens of thousands of ultra-orthodox Jews participated in the tragic event on Thursday night at the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, making it the largest event held in Israel since the coronavirus pandemic broke out last year.
A preliminary police investigation revealed that some of the attendees slipped on the stairs, creating a “human avalanche” that crushed members of the crowd.