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April 30, 2021 12:30 pm

Arab Towns in Israel’s North Rally to Aid of Jewish Mount Meron Disaster Survivors

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A view of Mount Meron where fatalities were reported among the thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews, who gathered at the tomb of a 2nd-century sage for annual commemorations that include all-night prayer and dance, Israel April 30, 2021. Picture taken with a drone. REUTERS/Ilan Rosenberg

As Israeli authorities continued work to identify the victims of the tragic stampede on Mount Meron early Friday morning, nearby Arab communities in Israel’s north sprung to the aid of Haredi survivors of the disaster.

In the Arab city of Tamra — about an hour’s drive from the site of the incident, where tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews celebrating the Lag B’Omer holiday —  a refreshment station was set-up for those heading south from Meron, Israel’s Walla news website reported.

“Food, drink and a place to refresh are waiting for every passerby,” the Tamra Gardens event space said.

The Israeli-Arab activist Yoseph Haddad called it an act of “touching solidarity in the midst of such tragedy.”

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Another refreshment station was set up in the village of Zarzir, near Nazareth, according to journalist Sami Abed Alhamid.

“Our hearts go out to the families, out of responsibility, solidarity and out of a belief in human equality, a refreshment station and water for the evacuees from Mount Meron,” said Council Chairman Amir Mazarariv, Alhamid reported.

As many as 100,000 Jewish pilgrims headed to Mount Meron for the holiday, which began Thursday evening, to visit the grave of the second-century sage Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai on the anniversary of his death.

At least 45 adults and children were killed and more than 150 injured, including many in critical condition, after a narrow passageway became overcrowded with people. On Friday evening, some survivors were still looking to make contact with their families.

Walla reported that makeshift rest stations were opened in the small Druze towns of Hurfeish and Beit Jann, both adjacent to Mount Meron, where residents offered their homes and local facilities to aid any evacuees.

Sheikh Mowafaq Tarif, the head of the Druze community, said that “members of the Druze community and the Druze villages share in the grief of the families who lost their loved ones, and are ready to provide any help in the Mount Meron area.”

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