Monday, 4 July, 2022

Thousands join Jewish pilgrimage year after stampede

Tens of thousands of Jewish faithful were expected at Israel's Mount Meron on Wednesday for an annual pilgrimage, a year after 45 people were crushed to death in a stampede.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said his government made a "considerable investment" in new safety measures to ensure there is no repeat of what was described as the greatest civilian disaster in Israeli history.

The Mount Meron pilgrimage occurs on the Lag BaOmer holiday, when mainly ultra-Orthodox Jews throng the site of the tomb of revered second century rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.

On April 30 last year, a stampede broke out in the male section of the gender-divided site as the size of the crowd turned a narrow passageway into a deadly choke-point.

At least 16 children were among those trampled to death. Bennett urged worshippers to follow new rules put in place for the event.

Among those is a cap of 16,000 pilgrims allowed at the site at any given moment. Tickets must also be acquired in advance.