Clashes Erupt at Religious Festival Site in Northern Israel

Mon May 27 2024
icon-facebook icon-twitter icon-whatsapp

JERUSALEM: Clashes erupted on Sunday between police and Jewish pilgrims at a religious festival site in northern Israel, the location where 45 people died in a crowd crush three years ago. Authorities had closed the site this year due to rocket fire from Lebanon.

Since the tragic incident at the tomb of a 2nd-century sage during the annual Lag B’Omer celebration in 2021, police have restricted the number of attendees. Historically, the all-night sessions of prayer, mystical songs, and dance drew tens of thousands of participants. However, this year’s festival was canceled because the Meron site in the Galilee region had been targeted by rocket fire from Lebanon.

Many northern Israeli towns have been evacuated since Iran-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon began firing rockets following Hamas’ assault on southern Israel on October 7, which ignited the ongoing Gaza war. Both sides have continued exchanging attacks. Despite the site closure, police reported turning away thousands of pilgrims over the weekend, though hundreds managed to reach Meron, leading to chaotic scenes.

The visitors caused property damage and threw objects at officers, resulting in injuries to nineteen police officers. Israeli media reported that several members of the unauthorized crowd were also hurt. Police are looking into more instances that occurred at the location, and at least one officer was suspended for slamming an elderly man to the ground.

icon-facebook icon-twitter icon-whatsapp