Those who participated in the Lag Ba’omer celebrations and tried to rescue those caught in the stampede on Mount Meron Thursday night expressed shock and horror at the tragedy.United Hatzalah CEO Eli Pollack told The Jerusalem Post that the incident occurred when large crowds of people streamed into a closed-in complex, crushing dozens of people against fences.Pollack said that people had come to the celebrations excited that they were finally able to celebrate like they were used to after a year of coronavirus lockdowns, and stressed how the great joy was suddenly broken by the disaster.“Unfortunately we found small children being trampled there, and we performed resuscitations on children. We managed to save some of them,” United Hatzalah founder Eli Beer told Army Radio. “We need to wake up; I’m shocked by the amount of people who were let in.”“Difficult sights, people crushed without being able to escape,” said MDA spokesman Zaki Heller, according to the Post’s sister publication Maariv.“We were standing and waiting for our friends, we were going to go inside for the dancing and stuff, and all of a sudden we saw paramedics from MDA running by, like mid-CPR on kids,” 36-year-old Shlomo Katz said.“This is one of the worst tragedies that I have ever experienced. I have not seen anything like this since I entered into the field of emergency medicine back in 2000,” said vice president of the Volunteer Department of United Hatzalah Lazar Hyman.“We were at the entrance, we decided we wanted to get out and then the police blocked the gate, so whoever wanted to get out could not get out. In that hurry, we fell on each other; I thought I was going to die,” another eyewitness told Maariv. “I saw people dead next to me.”One of the people injured in the incident told KAN news that people began slipping on the stairs and falling on each other. “There were just more and more and more people, until the police decided to just remove the fences from the side and to try and rescue people. It took time. I remember that I was lying on top of someone. He wasn’t breathing.”“There were screams; a mess. Each one trying to get out from the other, but they didn’t succeed in getting anyone out because everyone was in a tangle. I saw people, children, under me,” the eyewitness added.Pictures from the scene showed that the incident occurred on a metal incline, which eyewitnesses described as so slippery that people just kept sliding into and on top of one another. Clothes, hats, water bottles and even pieces of strollers remained strewn in the narrow passageway after the incident, according to Israeli media.Despite the tragedy, hundreds of worshipers refused to leave the site afterward and clashed with police, who stopped them from entering the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.“It’s just blocked; I wanted to say the morning prayers. Look at this: Look what they’re doing to Jews,” said one worshiper who was trying to enter the tomb. The worshiper insisted that the celebration should continue nonetheless, saying “we need to pray by Rabbi Shimon, we need the celebration of Rabbi Shimon.” Source: Jerusalem Post
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