At least 45 people died, and some 150 individuals were injured early Friday morning after a section of stadium seating in Mount Meron collapsed, triggering a stampede. Several of the deceased were trampled to death as the tens of thousands of people celebrating Lag BaOmer attempted to flee the venue.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a trip to Meron hours after the deadly incident occurred, only to be met with crowds of protesters – many of whom were related to the victims – who reportedly booed and threw bottles at him.
“In these moments our people unite and that is what we are doing at this moment as well,” said Netanyahu, announcing that Sunday would be a national day of remembrance for the victims.
He also announced that a probe has been launched into what he believes is one of the “heaviest disasters” in Israeli history.
It’s unclear if foul play occurred.
Furthermore, Israeli Health Minister Yuli Edelstein has urged the public to let the investigation take place before rushing to place blame.
It’s unclear exactly how many people were in attendance for the religious celebration, which has been dubbed the largest Israeli event since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Authorities reportedly expected 10,000 individuals to be in attendance, but organizers have said some 30,000 individuals showed up.
Some 5,000 police officers were deployed for the celebration.