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Videos showing the moments before and after the stampede that left at least 44 dead in Israel

Tens of thousands of people took part in the annual pilgrimage celebrating the Jewish holiday of Lag Baomer at Mount Meron on Mount Meron on Thursday through Friday night, around the grave of a prominent 2nd century rabbi.

Thursday was a tragic day in Israel when the stampede killed at least 44 people while tens of thousands attended Lag Ba’omer’s annual festivities., the largest event held in the country since the coronavirus pandemic began last year.

In the videos, a tide of people is seen trying to leave the party site, located at the foot of Mount Meron. Faced with so many people fleeing in terror, the authorities could do little or nothing, just wait for the evacuation of the place to start helping the wounded.

A video made just before the stampede shows a mass of people dancing and jumping in sync with the beat of the song.

Other images posted on social media show a procession approaching a metal structure where devotees are around a fire.

Compared to last year, when the event was held with restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19, participation this year was greater. According to some estimates, about 100,000 people arrived at the scene, despite warnings from authorities about the risk of coronavirus transmission.

The Lag b’Omer holiday is a time when ultra-Orthodox Jews gather around the grave of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, a 2nd century Talmudist credited with writing the Zohar, a central work of Jewish mysticism. The celebration, which is not popular with the Jewish community outside Israel, includes dances and bonfires.

The specific circumstances that led to the crushing were not clear on Friday, but a local lifeguard, Yehuda Gottleib, who works for United Hatzalah, said he saw men “crushed” and “lost in conscience,” according to his organization. .

Great disaster on Mount Meron, ‚ÄĚPrime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted in Hebrew late at night., who asked the population to “pray to save the wounded”.

The authorities had allowed 10,000 people to be present at the tomb, but according to organizers, more than 650 buses were chartered across the country, representing at least 30,000 people. However, he later learned that there were about 100,000 assistants, according to some Israeli media.

After midnight, calls to rescue teams multiplied and six helicopters worked to evacuate the wounded to Safed and Nahariya hospitals, two cities in the north of the country.

The Israeli army was deployed to help evacuate the wounded and provide “medical treatment” on the ground.

Last year, Israeli authorities arrested more than 300 people at the Lag b’Omer celebration after large crowds defied coronavirus restrictions and ignored police checkpoints on the roads. Some people threw stones at the police trying to enforce sanitary measures, The New York Times reported.

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