הלוויה של משה נתן נטע אנגלרד בן 14 ויהושע אנגלרד בן 9 וחצי
The funeral procession of 14-year-old Moshe Nathan Engelrad and 9-year-old Yehosha Engelrad — two brothers who perished in the Mount Meron crush
Photo: Amit Shabi
The funeral for Menachem Kenlowitz, 22, is held in Jerusalem on Saturday night

Israel resumes Meron disaster funerals as more victims named

Those being laid to rest after Shabbat include three teenagers who were killed in the crush at the Lag BaOmer celebrations on Thursday night that claimed 45 lives; 13 of the victims were still unidentified as of Saturday night

Ynet, AFP |
Updated: 05.01.21 , 22:58
Israel on Saturday night resumed the funerals for the victims of a crush that killed at least 45 people at Thursday's Lag BaOmer celebrations on Mount Meron, the nation's worst peacetime disaster.
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  • Most of the victims were ultra-Orthodox Jews and funerals were being held after sunset Saturday, when Shabbat was over.
    9 צפייה בגלריה
    הלוויתו של מנחם קנובלוביץ' בבית הלוויות שמגר בירושלים
    הלוויתו של מנחם קנובלוביץ' בבית הלוויות שמגר בירושלים
    The funeral for Menachem Kenlowitz, 22, is held in Jerusalem on Saturday night
    (Photo: AP)
    Israel spent a weekend reeling from the worst peacetime disaster in its history, with Israelis from all sectors of society offering accommodation, catering and even replacement glasses for those caught up in the tragedy.
    Across the country, so many people queued to give blood that the Magen David Adom rescue service told would-be donors to go home and return another day.
    In Tel Aviv, the city hall overlooking Rabin Square was lit up with the Israeli flag in solidarity with the victims and families in mourning.
    9 צפייה בגלריה
    בניין עיריית תל אביב-יפו הואר בדגל ישראל לאות אבל והזדהות עם האסון במירון
    בניין עיריית תל אביב-יפו הואר בדגל ישראל לאות אבל והזדהות עם האסון במירון
    Tel Aviv city hall is lit up with the Israeli flag in solidarity with the victims and families in mourning,
    (Photo: Tel Aviv Municipality)
    At least six people were due to buried Saturday night, including Yosef Yehuda Levi and Yishai Mualem, two 17-year-olds from the same community near Haifa who were being laid to rest together, and 19-year-old Shlomo Zalman Liebovitz from Safed.
    Thirteen of the victims were still unidentified as of Saturday night, as the names of more of those who perished were released.
    The Abu Kabir forensics institute in Tel Aviv said Saturday night that they expected all of the victims to be named within hours, Army Radio reported.
    9 צפייה בגלריה
    Family members mourn the passing of Yehuda Rubin —one of 45 people who have lost their lives in the Mount Meron stampede
    Family members mourn the passing of Yehuda Rubin —one of 45 people who have lost their lives in the Mount Meron stampede
    Family members mourn the passing of Yehuda Rubin —one of 45 people who have lost their lives in the Mount Meron stampede
    (Photo: EPA)
    Some funerals had already taken place on Friday, just hours after the overnight disaster.
    Tens of thousands of people had thronged to Mount Meron and the reputed tomb of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai to mark the Lag BaOmer holiday and commemorate the second-century Talmudic sage's death.
    "So far, the bodies of 32 victims of the Meron disaster have been identified," the Health Ministry said late Friday, adding that 22 bodies had been released for burial.
    "Due to the start of the Sabbath, and by order of the chief rabbi of Israel, it is not possible to continue the process" of identification or to hold funerals, it said, adding that this would resume from Saturday evening.

    Complex and sensitive

    Identification of some of the bodies may require fingerprinting, DNA and dental testing, the ministry said.
    9 צפייה בגלריה
    גופות נספי ה אסון ב הילולה הר מירון בליל האירוע
    גופות נספי ה אסון ב הילולה הר מירון בליל האירוע
    Dozens of body bags lying on the ground in the wake of Meron crush
    (Photo: Reuters)
    "We are working hard, but you have to understand that this is a complex and sensitive process," said Dr. Chen Kugel, director of the National Center of Forensic Medicine.
    Work must be done "responsibly" to avoid mistakes, he added.
    The pilgrimage was one of the largest public gatherings in Israel since the COVID-19 pandemic erupted last year.
    In a cruel irony, the Lag BaOmer holiday celebrates the end of a plague that killed thousands of Talmudic students at the time of Rabbi Bar Yochai.
    Israel has fully vaccinated more than half of its 9.3 million population against coronavirus, but restrictions remain on large public gatherings.
    9 צפייה בגלריה
    הלוויה של שרגא גשטטנר בהר המנוחות
    הלוויה של שרגא גשטטנר בהר המנוחות
    Shraga Gestetner — a Hassidic singer from Montreal, Canada who was crushed to death in the Meron disaster — laid to rest in Jerusalem
    (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)
    Several Israeli media outlets reported that about 100,000 people had attended the pilgrimage, although AFP could not immediately confirm that figure.
    Before the tragedy, a tightly packed crowd was singing and dancing, praying and lighting candles, according to images filmed by AFP.
    Men and women were separated, and children were also present.

    Heartbreaking

    There were conflicting reports about what caused the crush but multiple witnesses said scores of people trampled each other as they moved through a narrow passage.
    9 צפייה בגלריה
    עשרות בני אדם נפגעו בדוחק הכבד באחד ממתחמי ההדלקה במתחם ההילולה בהר מירון
    עשרות בני אדם נפגעו בדוחק הכבד באחד ממתחמי ההדלקה במתחם ההילולה בהר מירון
    First responders making their way through the crowd to tend to casualties in Meron crush
    (Photo: Moshe Mizrahi)
    Some blamed police for blocking access to a ramp that could have allowed some to escape.
    The police "closed it (the ramp). Then, more people arrived, and more and more... and police wouldn't let them exit, so people started to fall on top of each other," Shmuel, 18, told AFP.
    There were also indications that pilgrims had tried to burst through iron barricades as the choke-point formed.
    The Magen David Adom rescue agency said an estimated 150 had been injured, and dozens of ambulances, military and civilian helicopters rushed them to hospital.
    9 צפייה בגלריה
    מנחת הפצועים במרכז הרפואי לגליל בנהריה
    מנחת הפצועים במרכז הרפואי לגליל בנהריה
    First responders rush reveler injured in Meron stampede to Rambam Medical Center in Haifa
    "What happened here is heartbreaking," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday after visiting the site.
    The disaster was "one of the worst to hit" Israel since its foundation seven decades ago, he added, promising a "thorough, serious and in-depth investigation in order to ensure that such a disaster does not recur."
    Northern Israel's police chief Shimon Lavi said his officers had done all they could to save lives on a "tragic night," but that he was prepared to assume "overall responsibility."

    Funerals

    On Friday, funerals were held in Jerusalem and the mainly ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak, where men in traditional long black coats lined the streets to mourn.
    9 צפייה בגלריה
    הלוויה של משה נתן נטע אנגלרד בן 14 ויהושע אנגלרד בן 9 וחצי
    הלוויה של משה נתן נטע אנגלרד בן 14 ויהושע אנגלרד בן 9 וחצי
    The funeral procession of 14-year-old Moshe Nathan Engelrad and 9-year-old Yehosha Engelrad — two brothers who perished in the Mount Meron crush
    (Photo: Amit Shabi)
    Among the victims was 38-year-old Elazar Goldberg.
    "Ask up there that God protects your children," his father said, as his son was laid to rest in Jerusalem.
    U.S. President Joe Biden led world leaders expressing their condolences, saying "the loss of life among worshippers practicing their faith is heartbreaking."
    The State Department said several U.S. citizens were among the casualties.
    9 צפייה בגלריה
    עשרות בני אדם נפגעו בדוחק הכבד באחד ממתחמי ההדלקה במתחם ההילולה בהר מירון
    עשרות בני אדם נפגעו בדוחק הכבד באחד ממתחמי ההדלקה במתחם ההילולה בהר מירון
    First responders at the scene of the Meron crush
    (Photo: Moshe Mizrahi)
    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas sent prayers "for the victims and hope for the recovery of the injured."
    European Council chief Charles Michel wished "strength and courage" to the Israeli people, while Britain's Queen Elizabeth said she was "deeply saddened by news of the disaster."
    First published: 18:47 , 05.01.21
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