JERUSALEM (VINnews) — The Lag Ba’Omer festivities at Meron had a somber feeling in the wake of last year’s tragic stampede. The festivities were opened with the traditional lighting by the Boyaner Rebbe but prior to the lighting, 45 candles were lit to commemorate the victims of the tragedy last year.
Police attempted to strictly maintain order and prevented people from entering the site until others left. Despite the fact that they intended to prevent accidents, there were numerous critics of police behavior, since they prevented thousands of people from reaching the site and left them in a dark parking lot with no water or lighting. Only after the Boyan chasidim left, police allowed buses to leave and arrive at Meron.
אלפי אנשים מחכים כעת בחניונים בסביבת מירון ובגליל בהמתנה לאישור המשטרה להמשיך בנסיעה להילולה. את שעות הנסיעה וההמתנה הארוכות יש מי שמנצלים כעת להדלקת מדורה ועריכת הילולה חלופית. (צילום: ישראל קאהן) pic.twitter.com/zvL89g8TUe
— יאיר קראוס (@yair_kraus) May 18, 2022
Thousands celebrate in parking lots as they wait for permission to enter Meron
Moreover even at Meron, police almost totally prevented entry to the tomb area. At around midnight a large crowd gathered near the tomb but was held back. The crowd, some of who broke through the barriers, reminded some people of last years tragic events.
אנחנו מתקרבים לשעת חצות: בדיוק שנה מאז האסון במירון ולא למדנו כלום! pic.twitter.com/PyjCwYSZsf
— יוסי אליטוב Yossi Elituv (@yoelituv) May 18, 2022
Journalists present at the site said that “even when the tomb was empty, police kept thousands of people in the parking lots and at the bottom of the mountain below. Why? For no apparent reason.”
Aryeh Erlich, an editor of Mishpacha magazine, tweeted that “police decided to eliminate the Rashbi festivities. They took off the music, closed the tomb, stopped the buses on the way to Meron. The courtyard is empty, the tomb is empty and hundreds and thousands of Jews are distressed and helpless. Commander Lavi and Police Commissioner Shabtai, this is not safety, this is evil and criminal. Jews want to be by Rashbi- protect them, don’t strangle them!”