The tragedy that occurred in Meron this past week has left the world in a state of shock and sorrow. As far as what set of the stampede is concerned, there have been a lot of speculations and accounts, but the actual cause remains uncertain. Amidst this confusion, Maor Tzur Ish, a journalist from Israel’s Channel 13 News published a report regarding his eye-witness account of what may have set off the chaos that claimed the life of 45 people in Meron.
The Meron catastrophe resulted in the death of 45 people who had gathered for the religious bonfire-lighting ceremony to mark the holiday of Lag Ba’omer. Out of the deceased, at least six of the deceased are US citizens, the Foreign Ministry said. Two are Canadian citizens. In response to the lives lost, US President Joe Biden said that the US embassy and State Department were providing all necessary support to their families.
But what set off this tragedy, is a question that is on everyone’s mind, especially since the gathering itself, was religious and peaceful. According to the report shared by Tzur and a few other witnesses, the initial cause of the stampede was one of the celebrants suffering a heart attack and collapsing in the first row. This sent a wave of panic across the congregation, since Participants who saw this, screamed for help from the police and from the medical teams who were present at the site.
They attempted to pick up the man while at the same time they stopped the masses from coming down the passageway. This is what caused the bottleneck and the eventual collapsing wave of the people trampling one another to death. According to these same eye-witness reports, the police were attempting to stop the people from trampling the man who had collapsed and those trying to help him, and for that reason they closed part of the passageway.
Meanwhile, according to international media reports including one from Reuters quoted, Shlomo Katz, 36, who was at the festival. “We were going to go inside for the dancing and stuff and all of a sudden we saw paramedics from (ambulance service) MDA running by, like mid-CPR on kids.”
One injured man told reporters what he saw at the start of the stampede. “People were piling up one on top of the other. I was in the second row. The people in the first row – I saw people die in front of my eyes,” he said. He was among the 150 people who were hospitalized after the incident, according to Zaki Heller, spokesman for the Magen David Adom rescue service.
Standing in solidarity with the victims and those injured, Israeli’s as of Sunday, made more than 2200 blood donations to help those who are still being treated.