Meron: Aftermath

April 30, 2021 by J-Wire photo story
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Following the deaths of 45 ultra-orthodox in Meron, Israelis queue up to give blood…and President Reuven Rivlin lights 45 candles…a J-Wire photostory.

President Rivlin lights 45 candles Photo: Mark Neyman (GPO)

In his remarks, the president said, “This is a terrible, painful day. A heartbreaking tragedy. Our prayers and thoughts are with those injured and with the families of those killed and missing in the awful tragedy at Har Meron last night. I send my heartfelt thanks to those working without a break since last night to rescue and give medical treatment. This is the time to embrace the families to help all those looking for their loved ones to take those injured to our hearts  and to weep together.”

Australia’s PrimeMinister Scott Morrison has sent his condolences and prayers to Prime Minister Netanyahu and the people of Israel following the tragedy at Mount Meron as Israeli’s resumed the celebration of Lag B’Omer.

The Prime Minister noted that Australia and Israel share a deep and longstanding friendship, an international covenant of community that has persisted for decades.

The Australian Ambassador to Israel will work with the Israeli Government to offer assistance.

President Rivlin has received a letter of condolence from Chairman of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas, following the Har Meron tragedy.

In the letter, Abbas expressed his sorrow “for the tragedy that claimed the lives of dozens of victims,” adding, “we are praying for the victims and hope for the recovery of those injured.”

A ZAKA volunteer collects hats and shoes left after the stampede Credit: ZAKA/ Aharon Baruch Leibowitz

ZAKA volunteer Haim Spielberg, who took care of the scene: “This is one of the most difficult disasters I have dealt with during my volunteering for the ZAKA organization. I received a call from ZAKA about a mass casualty incident. When I arrived, I saw dozens of people lying on the floor, having been pushed into a narrow passage. Everywhere, there were cries for help. Medics and paramedics were administering CPR on some of them. There was the smell of death and bereavement in the air as more and more stretchers with lifeless people were carried from the scene.”

He added: “While we were working at the scene, it was so distressing to hear the constant ringing of the cellphones of the deceased. Tears flowed from my eyes when I saw the words Dad or Mum on the phone screen. The rescue and security forces kept removing more and more bodies from the scene. The dozens of ZAKA volunteers, who were already at the scene as part of our regular campaign to help those making the annual pilgrimage to the site, worked throughout the night to clear the scene, reunite loved ones and help identify the victims.”

Video: ZAKA Northern District Commander, Rabbi Anshel Friedman recites the Kaddish mourners prayer with the ZAKA volunteers who had worked throughout the night, preparing dozens of deceased for their final journey.  The plastic bags contain some of the deceased. Credit: ZAKA/ Aharon Baruch Leibowitz

Haim Weingarten, Special Operations Commander, ZAKA: “This is a painful and tragic event. The ZAKA Missing Person’s centre on Mount Meron, which had been active earlier in the evening reuniting children separated from their families, immediately became a centre for information and to locate missing family members. At the beginning of the incident, dozens of families flocked to the ZAKA headquarters in search of their loved ones who were not answering their phones. It was painful and difficult to see parents and family members in this horrific situation. Dozens of bodies of the deceased were transported by ZAKA vehicles, ambulances and special trucks for further identification and burial.”

Magen David Adom staff help the blood donors

Following the tragedy in Meron, hundreds wait to donate blood at a Magen David Adom collection in Jerusalem.
Photos by David Michael Cohen/TPS

U.S. President Joe Biden called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to express his condolences over the “heartbreaking” tragedy in Meron that left at least 45 dead and 150 wounded on Friday.

“The United States stands with the people of Israel and with Jewish communities the world over in mourning the terrible tragedy at Mount Meron,” he said.

The president stated that the “loss of life among worshippers practising their faith is heartbreaking” and that he has instructed his team to offer any assistance it can provide. He also said he is working to confirm reports that U.S. citizens may have lost their lives or were wounded as part of the crowd of more than 100,000.

“The people of the United States and Israel are bound together by our families, our faiths and our histories, and we will stand with our friends. Our prayers are with those who were injured and all those who lost loved ones. May their memories be a blessing,” he said.

Netanyahu thanked Biden, as well as other world leaders who shared in their grief.

“I thank him on your behalf, citizens of Israel. I also thank [Russian] President Putin, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, European leaders and leaders in the Arab world—from Bahrain, the Emirates and many other leaders who share the grief of all Israeli citizens,” he wrote on Twitter.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also phoned his Israeli counterpart, Foreign Affairs Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, telling him that the United States “stands ready to assist Israel during this difficult time.”

“[Blinken] reiterated that just as this is a tragedy for both of our countries, the bond between the United States and Israel is ironclad and that the United States mourns the lives lost alongside Israel,” according to a U.S. State Department readout.



One Response to “Meron: Aftermath”
  1. Lynne Newington says:

    My condolences to family and friends and courage to those on the front line dealing with the tragedy.

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