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Israel Mourns Victims of Mount Meron Disaster

Israel on Sunday marked a national day of mourning, commemorating the 45 people who died at Thursday night’s religious festival on Mount Meron, site of the tomb of a second-century sage. On Sunday morning, the last of the bodies were identified by family members, who due to the holy day of Shabbat were forced to leave the morgues on Friday evening and return home before identifying their loved ones. On Saturday evening, Public Security Minister Amir Ohana outraged many when, in his first comments on the tragic events, he insisted that he “was responsible – but responsibility does not imply guilt.” Over 150 worshippers were wounded, some still in critical and serious condition on Sunday, when in the early hours on Friday a panicked stampede broke out in the confined complex, crushing hundreds. Lag b’Omer, the Jewish holiday that celebrates the failed second-century rebellion against the Roman Empire in Judea, draws hundreds of thousands of mostly ultra-Orthodox Jews to the northern Galilee mountain annually, where large bonfires are lit followed by mass prayers, drinking and dancing.