Police have arrested three youths making their way to Mount Meron for the annual Lag B’Omer celebration on suspicion they planned to sabotage equipment at the site, accusing them of endangering the whole shebang.
The three were found with pliers, boxcutters and spray paint in bags normally used to carry objects for Jewish prayer rites, police say following an undercover investigation. They suspect the youths planned to use the tools to damage electrical or telecommunications equipment, including loudspeakers and screens.
Hundreds of thousands of people are expected in Meron Wednesday night and Thursday for an annual pilgrimage in honor of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, who is buried there. Police have been under intense pressure to secure the event after 45 people were killed in a crush of bodies last year.
A statement from police accuses “extremist lawbreakers” of “trying every which way to sabotage the pilgrimage. Damage to infrastructure turns into damage that threatens the whole event and causes distress among celebrants. Should command and control operations be damaged, it could put those at the site at real risk.”