Israel marks nationwide day of mourning after Mount Meron tragedy

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Israel marked a nationwide day of mourning on May 2, honoring the 45 individuals who perished early on April 30 in a stampede on Mount Meron. The tragedy occurred in the course of the Lag Ba’Omer spiritual festivities, within the nation’s deadliest-ever civilian catastrophe. Among the useless had been over a dozen youngsters and youngsters. Victims embody Israelis and likewise nationals from the United States, Canada and Argentina.

More than 100,000 folks had attended the annual Lag Ba’Omer gathering, which historically contains visits to the graveside of sage Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai on Mount Meron and big bonfires on the mountainside. Police is at the moment investigating the circumstances of the tragedy.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had declared a day of mourning throughout a go to to the scene on April 30, after the victims and the wounded had been evacuated. On May 2, he visited the injured at the Rambam Hospital in Haifa.

In an indication of mourning, flags had been lowered to half-staff on the Knesset, at President Reuven Rivlin’s official residence and at Israeli embassies throughout the globe. Special memorial ceremonies had been performed on the Knesset and military bases. Concerts and sports activities occasions had been postponed.

During his go to May 2 to the Institute for Forensic Medicine at Abu Kabir, Rivlin acknowledged the strain and difficulties in quickly figuring out the victims. Jewish custom requires burying the useless as quickly as potential. Still, with so many victims, not all may very well be recognized instantly so as to be buried on Friday, earlier than the Sabbath commenced. Some of the victims had been buried the identical day, whereas others had been buried on Saturday evening, after the Sabbath ended.

Rivlin stated, “It is hard to grasp the pain of the families who during the Sabbath did not know the fate of their loved ones [as identification of the bodies and funerals were halted]. The institute’s staff understood the tremendous sensitivity of any delays in burials, for which we gratefully thank them. … I call on medical, rescue, emergency and pathology teams and volunteers: If you were part of dealing with this awful tragedy, take the time to process this traumatic experience and to recover from it.”

Israel acquired condolence messages from many world leaders, together with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and a number of other Arab international locations. The Foreign Ministry stated it had additionally acquired condolences from international locations with which Israel doesn’t have diplomatic ties. In a letter to Rivlin, Abbas expressed his sorrow “for the tragedy that claimed the lives of dozens of victims.” He added, “We are praying for the victims and hope for the recovery of those injured.”

Jordan’s King Abdullah referred to as Rivlin and supplied his condolences. Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif Bin Rashid Al Zayani despatched a letter to Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, expressing his disappointment over the “terrible tragedy at Mount Meron, which claimed the lives of 45 people.”