Residents of Druze village open homes to evacuees, rescuers

Arab towns offer food, drink to Meron survivors; hundreds give blood in Tel Aviv

Residents of nearby villages set up help stations for thousands making their way home; large lines at mobile units in Tel Aviv as residents wait for hours to donate

Hundreds of Israelis line up to donate blood following the deadly Mt Meron crush, on April 30, 2021. (Screenshot: Channel 12)
Hundreds of Israelis line up to donate blood following the deadly Mt Meron crush, on April 30, 2021. (Screenshot: Channel 12)

Local Arab villages set up stations to offer food and drink to evacuees from the site of the disaster at Meron on Friday morning, as many hundreds lined up to donate blood in Tel Aviv.

Media reports said residents of nearby villages and towns in the north of Israel set up stations with free food and drink for the many thousands of Jewish worshipers still trying to make their way out of the mountainous Meron area in the wake of the overnight tragedy.

According to Yoseph Haddad, an Arab Israeli activist, initiatives to help the evacuees were launched in Tamra, Jish, Yarka and Peki’in.

Radi Najm, mayor of the Druze town of Beit Jan near Mount Meron, said his town had opened its facilities and many families had opened their homes to evacuees and rescuers from the disaster.

“Beit Jan residents and the local council join in the grief of the entire nation,” Najm said in a statement. “They open their homes and the council’s facilities to offer any help possible. I have ordered the [town’s] emergency services to provide any help necessary to the rescue crews. The residents are ready to receive evacuees and families from the disaster area.”

Arab leaders expressed sorrow over the tragedy.

Joint List leader Ayman Odeh spoke of “heartache” for the dozens of families “left torn and bereaved.” He said he was heartened to see Jews and Arabs work together to respond to the disaster, calling it “a small ray of light in the great tragedy.”

Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi tweeted of “a terrible disaster” and his“deep sorrow for those who died on the day they came to celebrate.”

Ra’am leader Mansour Abbas sent condolences to the bereaved amid his “difficult feelings over the terrible disaster.”

Meanwhile, in Tel Aviv, hundreds of Israelis lined up to donate blood at Magen David Adom mobile units in the iconic Rabin Square, after the organization sent out a call for anyone to come to assist following the deadly stampede.

“I’m number three hundred and something, and I think they’re seeing number 100 now, so I have a long wait ahead,” a man waiting to donate blood told Channel 12 News.

A woman told the outlet that said she had been waiting for two hours to donate but felt that it was important to stay.

According to Channel 12, Magen David Adom had planned to close the units in the early afternoon but decided to remain open as hundreds of residents waited in the sun to donate.

Tel Aviv additionally plans to light up the municipality building with the Star of David on Saturday night, in solidarity with the victims and their families.

At least 45 people were crushed to death and more than 150 people hurt, including many in critical condition, in the tragedy that began to unfold at around 1 a.m. on Friday.

Tens of thousands of people had gathered at Mount Meron in the northern Galilee for an annual pilgrimage around the gravesite of the second-century sage Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai. Army Radio reported that children were among the dead and injured.

Visiting the site of the Meron disaster, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Sunday would be marked as a day of national mourning.

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