Bonfires blazed across the country Wednesday night and into Thursday morning to mark the holiday of Lag Ba’omer, though for some the events were not all fun and games.
The Magen David Adom emergency service reported that it provided treatment to approximately 150 people for smoke inhalation, burns, bruises, fractures, cuts, fainting and dehydration.
At the grave of second-century sage Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai on Mount Meron near Safed in the north of Israel, where hundreds of thousands were commemorating the anniversary of the kabbalist’s death, 40 people were treated.
The minor Jewish holiday of Lag Ba’omer — which also marks the traditional date of the end of a plague that killed 24,000 students of another sage, Rabbi Akiva, in the first century CE — is customarily celebrated with bonfires, barbecues and outdoor activities.
On Mount Meron, a 24-year-old man fell approximately four meters (13 feet) from a grandstand and injured his head. He was taken by helicopter to Rambam hospital in Haifa, where, according to Ynet, he is in moderate condition. Another man was also hospitalized
In the West Bank city of Beitar Illit, seven people, including four children, were injured in an explosion when a gas canister was thrown into a large bonfire.
The south also saw flames of another sort: a Kassam rocket was launched from the Gaza Strip, landing in an open field in the Sha’ar Hanegev area.
No injuries or damage were reported.
At the northern end of the country, brief rainfall was reported in the town of Hispin on the Golan Heights, according to Ynet. The quarter hour or so of light rain did nothing to extinguish either the bonfires or the Lag Ba’omer festivities.
As it does every year on Lag Ba’omer, the Ministry of Environmental Protection monitored levels of air pollution affecting the respiratory tract as a result of the bonfires. Their research showed a marked increase last night, in some areas by as much as nearly 3 percent.
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