המוני מתפללים בהר מירון
A large crowd celebrating Lag BaOmer holiday at Mount Meron shortly before 45 people lost their lives in the crush
Photo: AFP
Mount Meron, where annual Lag BaOmer celebrations take place, became a scene of devastation on Thursday night

'It's a miracle the Meron crush happened in just one location'

Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Yossi Daitsh was not surprised by the tragic events of Thursday; after he and his son and brother-in-law escaped similar overcrowding elsewhere, he told police officers to ease the crowds or 'people would die'

Gilad Cohen, Eli Sinyor |
Published: 05.01.21 , 09:33
It is a miracle that the tragedy of Thursday night at a compound on Mount Meron was not replicated in other crowded areas of the Lag BaOmer festivities, according to Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Yossi Daitsh.
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  • Daitsh, who attended the celebrations, said he experienced being crushed by the crowd three hours before the devastating event that claimed 45 lives.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    הר מירון
    הר מירון
    Mount Meron, where annual Lag BaOmer celebrations take place, became a scene of devastation on Thursday night
    (Photo: Yehuda Rosen)
    "We are standing at the entrance to the compound while thousands of people behind us were pushing to get in. There were barriers and a small and narrow passageway," Daitsh said.
    "A policeman told us to go back and threatened to spray us with pepper spray if we did not do as he said. I asked him if he was insane. I said there were people there, children, they would be crushed, and people would die. I asked him to let some of them through and relieve some of the pressure on the crowd. But he would not listen," he said.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    מתפללים בהר מירון
    מתפללים בהר מירון
    Men and children crowd together during Lag BaOmer celebrations on Mount Meron on Thursday
    (Photo: AFP)
    "Then all hell broke loose, people tried to get away and climbed on top of us," he said.
    Daitsh said that Thursday's disaster could have been repeated in five or six different locations on Mount Meron that night.
    "It is a miracle that no other such tragedies occurred. I know how much effort the police put into securing the event and I do not want to lay blame. I am just telling you that my young son, my brother-in-law who arrived from New York and I were crushed by the crowd.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    המוני מתפללים בהר מירון
    המוני מתפללים בהר מירון
    A large crowd celebrating Lag BaOmer holiday at Mount Meron shortly before 45 people lost their lives in the crush
    (Photo: AFP)
    Daitsh left the area due to the overcrowding and was not on the scene when tragedy struck.
    "I told the policemen that those narrow bottle necks would cause a disaster. I told them to take the right precautions. There was a sense of chaos and lack of order," he said.
    During the week leading up to the religious festivities, police forces conducted war games practicing various possible scenarios that could happen when the compound was populated with the expected mass of 200,000 people.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai (center) with other high ranking officers at Mount Meron hours before fatal crush
    Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai (center) with other high ranking officers at Mount Meron hours before fatal crush
    Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai (center) with other high ranking officers at Mount Meron hours before fatal crush
    (Photo: Israel Police)
    The force practiced mass casualty events such as a collapse of stands, fire and other eventualities.
    Brig. Gen. Shimon Levi, commander of the police Northern District on Friday took full responsibility for the disaster, while others in the force blamed the government for negligence.
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