Seven people were hurt, most of them children, in an explosion in the city of Beitar Illit during Lag Ba’omer celebrations on Wednesday night.
According to initial reports, the explosion happened after some sort of canister was thrown into the large bonfire located in the center of the festivities.
Unstable weather conditions threatened bonfires during the holiday, as children and teens around the country marked the death of an ancient Kabbalist sage and an important event in their social calendars.
Warm temperatures and dry winds made this year’s bonfires especially risky, as fires move with the changing winds.
Thousands around the country lit bonfires to mark the anniversary of the death of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, a Second Temple-era sage buried on Mount Meron. The holiday has also become an important part of secular Israeli lore.
Weather forecasters had emphasized the need for adults to be present at bonfire, and suggested that water, sand and other fire-extinguishers be ready on site.
Magen David Adom had ambulances, intensive care unit vehicles, and hundreds of first aid professionals surrounding Mount Meron, which was expecting about 400,000 revelers.
Festivities were set to last through the night in celebration of the hillula, or anniversary of the rabbi’s death.
The Or Yarok Association for Safer Driving in Israel published a warning for road safety, as previous years have seen a spike in accidents on the holiday. In 2009, 112 people were injured in car accidents on Lag Ba’omer, many on the road to Mount Meron.
To prevent tired drivers from getting behind the wheel, the group recommended that people use public transportation to get to and from the celebrations.
Besides the massive bonfires on Mount Meron, festivities such as nature tours and hikes were set to take place across the country Thursday, as well as the 6th annual Israeli College of Animation sand sculpture beach exhibition in Tel Aviv.