Israel stampede: Dozens crushed to death in Israel's biggest Covid-era gathering

Meron, Israel: Several people were killed in a stampede at a Jewish pilgrimage site in northern Israel on Friday, according to emergency services.

The Israeli emergency service, Magen David Adom, tweeted the revised toll, adding, "MDA is fighting for the lives of hundreds of wounded, and will not give up until the last victim is evacuated."

Tens of thousands of Jews, mostly ultra-Orthodox, were on their way to Meron for the annual Lag BaOmer pilgrimage, which was centered on the reputed tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, a second-century Talmudic sage.

Six helicopters were sent by emergency services to evacuate the wounded.

A picture of a row of bodies covered in plastic bags on the ground was reported in Israeli newspapers.

Authorities had approved a gathering of 10,000 people at the tomb site, but organizers said more than 650 buses from across the country had been chartered, carrying 30,000 pilgrims to Meron.

Approximately 5,000 police officers were mobilized to protect the case, which was the country's largest public meeting during the coronavirus pandemic.

Thousands of Jewish pilgrims in Israel's biggest Covid-era gathering

Tens of thousands of Jews took part Thursday in a pilgrimage in northern Israel, in the country's largest public gathering in the age of coronavirus.

The annual pilgrimage for the feast of Lag BaOmer is staged in Meron around the reputed tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, a second-century Talmudic sage.

Authorities had authorized 10,000 people to gather at the site of the tomb but organizers said more than 650 busses had been chartered from across the country, bringing 30,000 pilgrims to Meron.

Around 5,000 police were deployed to secure the event, with the police urging pilgrims to avoid incidents during the feast when bonfires are lit.

Israel's emergency medical service, the Magen David Adom, said it treated 85 people in Meron, some with light burns and others who had fainted.

Last year, the event was called off due to restrictions to curb the spread of Covid-19.

On the back of the world's fastest vaccination campaign, Israel has since late February emerged from its third national lockdown.

Since December, more than 50 percent of the nine-million population, or about 80 percent of over-20s, have been fully vaccinated with two shots.

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