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Palestine | Stampede at Israeli Religious Festival Kills Nearly 40

At least 44 people were killed on Thursday night after a stampede broke out as massive crowds gathered at a Jewish religious gathering in the entity’s north, in what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called a "heavy disaster."

Rescue operations were underway Friday morning to evacuate the thousands of people who were still at the scene. Israeli Transportation Ministry sent 300 empty buses to rescue the worshippers, but they were reportedly stuck in traffic due to the lack of police management of the event. 

Some 150 people were injured overnight, with six in critical condition, 18 in serious condition, eight in moderate condition, and 80 who were lightly injured, and over 250 of ambulances and six helicopters called to the scene to evacuate the injured, according to Magen David Adom (MDA).

A field hospital was set up at the scene. Israel Police and soldiers worked to evacuate the injured and clear the crowds. Phone service at the scene crashed as thousands attempted to contact family members and emergency services.

Tens of thousands of Israelis had gathered at the foot of Mount Meron to celebrate the so-called Lag BaOmer, a Jewish holiday honoring a Rabbi.

It was the first huge religious gathering of its kind to be held legally since Israeli authorities lifted nearly all restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic.