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Dozens dead in Israeli stampede

Israeli security officials and rescuers stand around the bodies of victims who died during a Lag Ba'Omer celebrations at Mt. Meron in northern Israel. Associated Press/ Photo by Ishay Jerusalemite/Behadrei Haredim

Dozens dead in Israeli stampede

At least 44 people died and 150 others sustained injures on Friday during a stampede at an overcrowded religious festival in northern Israel. Local media estimated about 100,000 ultra-Orthodox Jews had cramped into the Galilee tomb of 2nd-century sage and mystic Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai for the annual Lag BaOmer celebration, which usually includes all-night prayer, songs, and dance. The Israeli military deployed medics and a helicopter to aid the search and rescue.

What caused the stampede? Authorities are still investigating. Witnesses said people had tripped on some stairs, causing others to fall and triggering the stampede. The festival is Israel’s first major religious event since the pandemic hit. The country has lifted nearly all restrictions and vaccinated more than 58 percent of its population. But the Health Ministry warned against the event, saying the pandemic is still not over.

Dig deeper: Listen to The Olasky Interview with Israeli journalist Ze’ev Chafets on the forces driving the country’s political crisis.

Onize Ohikere

Onize is WORLD's Africa reporter. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and earned a journalism degree from Minnesota State University-Moorhead. Onize resides in Abuja, Nigeria.



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