Israeli pilgrimage disaster inquiry urges cap on visitors, food
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - An Israeli state inquiry into a crush that killed 45 people, including Americans and Canadians, at a Jewish pilgrimage site in April recommended on Monday that future admissions be capped and ceremonies streamlined in order to prevent overcrowding.
The panel, headed by a former Supreme Court chief justice, submitted interim findings designed to help authorities better plan for the next festival at Meron, the Galilee tomb of second-century sage Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, on May 18-19.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual commemorations could draw as many as 200,000 worshippers for all-night prayer, mystical songs, picnics and dance around bonfires.
Tens of thousands came on April 30 to the hilltop pilgrimage site, which covers about 5.6 acres. When a crowd surged into a narrow tunnel, 45 men and boys were asphyxiated or trampled to death. Six victims were Americans, two were Canadian.
Reuters/Ronen Zvulun FILE PHOTO: Ultra Orthodox Jews look at stairs with waste on it in Mount Meron
"The material brought before the commission and testimonies heard by it indicate that the maximal number of people that could be safely contained at the area at the same time is approximately 20,000," the panel said in a 16-page report.
While not recommending a target number, it said more space could be freed up by banning tents and pirate vendors at the site and by holding one central bonfire ceremony.
Pilgrims could be encouraged to rotate by bussing them in and out on tickets valid for specific hours, the panel said. It advised against allowing in food to "reduce the duration of stay (and) the danger of falling and slipping on garbage".
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's government signalled it would implement the findings.
"The 2022 observances at Meron will be entirely different from the observances held heretofore, and will take place according to other safety standards," Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana said in a statement.
The panel is separately looking at possible culpability among planners of the April observances, which took place under the previous government of Benjamin Netanyahu.
(Writing by Dan Williams, Editing by William Maclean)
Reference: Reuters: By Dan Williams
- Warning dangerous dupe of Zamzam holy water could be on sale in Leicester
- What it's like to be an Orthodox Jew in the UK today
- Why is Friday the 13th considered unlucky?
- Sacked church charity worker awarded £8,000 after dispute over ‘priest's affair’
- Church elder who stole woman's £600,000 ordered to pay back just £1
- Pope approved secret €1m bid to free kidnapped nun, says disgraced cardinal
- Ramadan 2022: Thousands joined by mayor for Iftar in Trafalgar Square for last week of fasting
- Three Scientology defectors sue church leader David Miscavige
- Caste pervasive across Christian, Sikh, Buddhist and other faiths
- Vatican suspends Jerusalem meeting between pope, Russian patriarch
- French nun Sister Andre, 118, claims title of world's oldest person
- St George's Day 2022: He wasn't England's first patron saint and 8 other facts
- Sweden hit by fourth day of unrest over planned Quran burnings
- Pope condemns Russia for ‘cruel and senseless’ invasion of Ukraine in sermon on ‘Easter of War’
- Archbishop of Canterbury hits out at Government plan to send migrants to Rwanda
- Those in public life should act with integrity, Archbishop of York suggests
- Royal Maundy Service explained as Queen misses it for first time in 52 years
- Jerusalem clashes: More than 150 Palestinians wounded as Israeli police enter Temple Mount
- Historians are questioning if Jesus ever existed at all
- Christian Media Center CEO: Fewer pilgrims for Easter as terror spikes
- Let There Be Light
- Plants that feel and Speak
- The Singing Forest
- The Singing Forest-2
- Using Essential Oils for Spiritual Connection
- Heaven Scent
- Plants that Feel and Speak-2
- Making the Spiritual Connection
- The Sanctity of Plants
- The Aroma Of Worship - Introduction
- Essential Oils: The unseen Energies
- The Aroma Of Worship-Foreward
- Methods Of Use
- Handling and Storage
- Spiritual Blending