Jewish Pilgrimage Returns Year After Deadly Stampede

A year after a stampede at a Jewish pilgrimage site in Israel killed 45 people and injured approximately 150 others, worshippers are gathering once again but under new restrictions.

The tens of thousands of Jewish faithfuls are expected to arrive Wednesday May 18 for the annual pilgrimage to Mount Meron.

To prevent another disaster, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennet said the government has made a “considerable investment” in new safety measures.

This includes a cap that limits the crowd at the pilgrimage site to 16,000 people at any given moment, and restrictions that require entry tickets to be acquired before attending the pilgrimage.

Israel’s Magen David Adom emergency service stated that hundreds of medical workers will be present at the site “in light of last year’s horrible disaster.”

Israeli police said they would be cracking down on anyone attempting to enter the site without a ticket or through an unauthorized entry point. Approximately 8,000 officers, mounted personnel, drones and a helicopter will be present throughout the pilgrimage to maintain order, according to Israeli police statements.

The stampede, which Israeli officials described as the worst civilian disaster in Israel’s history, occurred on April 30, 2021.

Panic ensued after a crowd of Jewish worshippers at the male-section of the site arrived at a narrow passageway that quickly turned into a deadly chokepoint.

Among the 45 people who were killed in the resulting stampede were 16 children.

The Israeli government has asked attendees of the pilgrimage to follow its new restrictions and cautioned that even with safety measures in place the site remains “awash with harmful hazards that endanger the safety of visitors.”

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