Jerusalem: Dozens of people were killed while several others have been injured in a stampede that occurred at a religious festival in the north-east of Israel.
Israel’s national emergency service Magen David Adom (MDA) confirmed the deaths without giving exact numbers.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described it as a “heavy disaster”, and said he was praying for the casualties.
“MDA is fighting for the lives of dozens wounded, and will not give up until the last victim is evacuated,” a tweet read.
Earlier in the day officials said they were not able to enforce coronavirus restrictions at the site due to the huge crowds.
Police reportedly said they had arrested two people for disrupting their efforts to keep order before the stampede occurred.
The Lag B’Omer festival at the foot of Mount Meron is the largest event held in the country since the coronavirus pandemic began, with tens of thousands reportedly attending – despite concerns about spreading the virus.
Tens of thousands of Orthodox Jews make a pilgrimage to Meron each year for Lag B’Omer, an annual religious holiday marked with all-night bonfires, prayer and dancing.
The town is the site of the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, a second-century sage, and is considered to be one of the holiest sites in the Jewish world.