Emergency services workers tend to the fatalities on Mount Meron, northern Israel.JINI PHOTO AGENCY LTD / Reuters
When it was successfully emerging from the pandemic thanks to mass vaccination, a tragedy shook Israel in the early hours of Friday (local time). At least 38 people have died and dozens have been injured during the celebration of Lag Baomer, the Jewish holiday of fire, on Mount Meron (north of the country) when a human avalanche occurred after an apparent outbreak of panic in a place where Tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews were crowded together. It was the most massive event that took place in the country since March last year, when the global health crisis was declared, despite the limitations of capacity of 10,000 attendees that the authorities had imposed.
The Red Star of David medical service reported that the bodies of pilgrims were piling up after the stampede. The ceremony centers around the grave of the revered Rabbi Simon Bar Yochai, a 2nd century mystic, and takes place throughout the night amid memorial bonfires. The human agglomeration made relief and rescue tasks difficult. Ambulances could barely reach the scene of the accident to evacuate the injured, many of whom had to be transferred by helicopter to different hospitals in the country, from the place of the religious celebration,
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lamented via Twitter the "enormous disaster" that occurred during the religious pilgrimage. "We pray that the wounded recover soon," added the head of the Government. After fully vaccinating more than half of its population, Israel has returned to a normalcy similar to what it lived in before the pandemic. The Government has authorized massive cultural, sporting and religious events in which those with a vaccination certificate can participate.
The ultra-religious Jewish community represents 12% of its 9.3 million inhabitants in Israel, although its demographic strength, with very large families, suggests that it will reach 30% in 2030. The model of coexistence between the secular and religious Jewish majority The moderate and ultra-Orthodox minority has broken down during the covid-19 pandemic. The Jaredíes or "fearful of God" have accumulated more than a third part of the infections while the rate of infections soared due to their determination to participate in massive religious acts without keeping a safe distance or observing protective measures.