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48 hours after Mount Meron disaster, missing Beersheba man found

Chaim Yitzhak Icht, 39, went missing Thursday night after visiting the Galilee pilgrimage site; his sister says he’s disappeared in past after visiting Meron

Icht Chaim Yitzhak, 39, has been missing since the Mount Meron disaster (courtesy)
Icht Chaim Yitzhak, 39, has been missing since the Mount Meron disaster (courtesy)

Police on Sunday located a 39-year-old man from the southern city of Beersheba, who went missing after visiting the Mount Meron pilgrimage site on Thursday, ahead of the deadly crush.

The family of Chaim Yitzhak Icht said earlier Sunday they had not made contact with him since the disaster and expressed concern he could be hurt. They said authorities have informed them he is not among the 45 dead, who have all been identified, nor among the injured.

Police on Sunday evening confirmed he was found, but did not elaborate on the circumstances of his disappearance.

Earlier in the day, his sister Bracha said he has disappeared in the past after visiting Mount Meron.

“We are very worried. He has traveled in the past to Meron every year. In the past there was a similar incident in which he disappeared. He has three children,” she told Channel 12.

Israeli rescue forces and police at a mass fatality scene during a gathering for the Jewish holiday of Lag B’Omer on Mt. Meron, in northern Israel, on April 30, 2021. (David Cohen/Flash90)

More than 100,000 people were at the annual Lag B’Omer gathering on Thursday in the northern Galilee, which includes visits to the gravesite of 2nd century sage Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and massive bonfires on the mountainside. A bonfire lighting ceremony for the Toldot Aharon Hasidic sect was being held at the pilgrimage area, close to Bar Yochai’s tomb.

As the dense crowds began to exit, a narrow, sloping walkway on the exit route became immensely congested, people slipped on the metal floor and others fell on them, precipitating fatal crushing, exacerbated by a reported police barrier at the bottom of the incline.

On Sunday morning, the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute in Tel Aviv said it had finished identifying all 45 bodies from the deadly crush. It also said 44 bodies had been released for burial, and the remaining body would be released during the day at the request of the family.

Israeli rescue forces and police near the scene after a crush killed and wounded dozens during the celebrations of the Jewish holiday of Lag B’Omer on Mt. Meron, in northern Israel on April 30, 2021. (David Cohen/Flash90(

Most of the victims were buried on Friday, Saturday night, and Sunday.

The victims, all male, included brothers, children as young as 9, young fathers, and rabbis. At least two families lost multiple children.

Among the victims of the fatal crush caused by overcrowding in a narrow walkway were 10 foreign citizens: six Americans, a British national, two Canadians, and an Argentinian.

The incident, which happened early Friday during celebrations of the Lag B’Omer festival, is the country’s deadliest civilian disaster.

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