Chaos at Mount Meron as crowds wait for hours to leave site

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

Masses of men, women and small children have been waiting for hours to leave Mount Meron, following the deadly stampede at the pilgrimage site early this morning.

Police officers say they have almost no control over the massive bussing operation underway at the site, which is being rolled out haphazardly and with evident mismanagement.

With no clear signs or directions, people are stopping passing buses to ask their destinations — Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh, Safed — causing massive traffic jams and further confusion.

“We have no direction. There’s someone down the hill who’s supposed to be in charge, but I don’t know. We’re trying to keep people back to let the buses through but…” a police officer tells The Times of Israel, before trailing off with a shrug.

As people have been stranded here for hours, individuals have begun passing out water bottles to keep people from dehydrating.

Orthodox Jews are pictured on April 30, 2021 following a stampede in Meron which took place overnight during a religious gathering in the northern Israeli town near the reputed tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, a second-century Talmudic sage, where mainly ultra-Orthodox Jews flock to mark the Lag B’Omer holiday (Jack Guez / AFP)

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