Rivlin Lights 45 Candles in Memory of Mount Meron Stampede Victims
i24 News – Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin lit up 45 candles on Friday in memory of those killed in the stampede on the Mount Meron compound earlier in the day.
“I send my heartfelt thanks to those working without a break since last night to rescue and give medical treatment” to those injured, Rivlin said in a statement.
“This is the time to embrace the families, to help all those looking for their loved ones, to take those injured to our hearts. To weep together.”
Rivlin’s office opened a hotline for those seeking assistance with finding their close ones in the wake of the tragedy.
Late on Thursday, thousands arrived at the religious site to celebrate Lag B’Omer, a holiday when many Jews make a pilgrimage to the grave of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai.
A narrow, slippery and severely overcrowded walkway in the area worked as a bottleneck for the revelers, media reports say, with several people slipping and knocking others off their feet, resulting in the stampede that killed at least 45 people and left about 150 injured, including critically. Other available accounts suggest that the tragedy unraveled differently.
The disaster amounts to Israel’s worst peacetime tragedy, the second-worst one being the Mount Carmel forest fire of 2010.
Israel’s cabinet canceled its meeting slated for Sunday, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seeks to have approved as a national day of mourning, and hundreds heeded the calls for blood donations to survivors from Israel’s emergency rescue services in Tel Aviv.