JERUSALEM – The New Jersey teenager was among the Americans who died from a panic on Friday at a religious festival in Israel, the country’s chief Rabbi David Lau’s office confirmed on Sunday.
Donny Morris, 19, was named by the office as one of 45 people killed in the incident, alongside 26-year-old Eliezer Zvi Yuzef and 22-year-old Menachem Knoblowitz from New York, both Yousef Amran Tauber and Yousef Kahn. Kill too Their age and home status were not released.
Jonathan Shrier, Israel’s Chargé d’Affaires, confirmed on Twitter that six citizens and two legal permanent residents were among the dead.
Morris was educated in Israel, his uncle Rabbi Yeshi Morris told several media outlets on Saturday as he confirmed the grandson’s death.
As Israel noted a day of mourning on Sunday, flags across the country were halved in honor of the victims in one of the country’s worst civilian disasters.
According to Jewish custom, funerals were held with as little delay as possible. More than 20 victims were buried overnight after formal identification was complete.
A deadly stampede occurred during the Lag BaOmer celebration in Mount Meron, northern Israel, by the ancient Jewish tomb of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai.
Each year, tens of thousands of people, mostly Orthodox Jews, gather in the area to celebrate the rabbis and the bonfire as part of the celebration. The event was the first ever legal religious gathering to be held as Israel lifted almost all restrictions related to the coronavirus outbreak.
It is not clear what caused the panic. But video footage showed people being drawn from the true thrust of the crowded crowds.Other footage of the incident showed large numbers of people, mostly men in black, spilling down the track. Walk in a narrow open space
The question of whether the government and police are reluctant to limit crowd size in the area so as not to be angry with rabbis and influential ultra-orthodox politicians.
The Justice Department said investigators would investigate whether police misconduct occurred.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who called the incident “One of the worst disasters in the attack on the State of Israel” has pledged an investigation.
On Sunday, Netanyahu visited the Rambam hospital in Haifa, praising the rescue staff.
“One parent told me a sentence that summed up everything. ‘People here reveal that Israel has one heart,’ ”Netanyahu said in a statement after the visit. “Our hearts are with the wounded, and we all hope and pray for them to fully recover.”
Pope Francis, 1,400 miles away in the Vatican, said in his address in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday that he would pray to the victims and their families.
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“In my grief, I would like to express my close proximity to the Israeli people to the events of last Friday on Mount Meron which killed 45 people and wounded mass,” said Francis.
President Joe Biden spoke with Netanyahu on Friday and offered US assistance.
“The loss of life among faithful worshipers is horrific,” Biden said in a statement.
Lawahez Jabari reported from Jerusalem and Yuliya Talmazan from London.
Reuters contributed to this report.