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Meron faithful reluctantly comply with new safety regime

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

The new security precautions in place on Mount Meron this year are being met with reluctant acceptance among pilgrims, including the thousands who were kept out of the event complex for the start of the festivities.

After 45 people were crushed to death last year at the event, authorities severely limited the number of attendees, from over 100,000 in some years to a strict 16,000 at one time this year, on four-hour timed tickets.

At one barricade at the entrance to the site, dozens of men and women grumbled as police officers and private security guards blocked their entrance, due to the complex being at full capacity.

“I was here last year. Trust me, it’s not worth it. Just wait and as soon as we can let you in, we will. Please don’t fight us,” one officer, Naor Siso, tells those waiting.
One of them responds, accepting Siso’s request, albeit with what could be seen as a tacit threat.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews attend Lag B’Omer celebrations, in Meron on May 18, 2022. (David Cohen/Flash90)

“There are dozens of us here. If we wanted to, we could send this barricade flying. We’re not doing that,” he says.

The strict safety precautions have so far prevented any serious injuries.

According to the Magen David Adom ambulance service says that there have been no significant incidents requiring medical treatment, though a few people required care after feeling dehydrated.

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