‘It’s unfathomable’: Israel mourns after deadly crush at holy festival

People tell of unfolding horror at Mount Meron as inquiry begins into one of the country’s worst peacetime disasters

Signs of the night’s tragedy were scattered everywhere. Crushed plastic bottles lined the narrow sloped path, barely 3 or 4 metres across. A metal handrail lay bent, completely ripped from the ground by the force of the crushing throng of people. And, further down the walkway, an unused body bag.

This thin passageway at a Jewish pilgrimage site in Mount Meron, northern Israel, was the scene of a horrific crush just after midnight on Thursday. Crowds of ultra-Orthodox men and children leaving a religious gathering, the first of its kind since nearly all coronavirus restrictions were lifted, slipped and trampled each other in the panic.

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