Israel observes national day of mourning to honor 45 Meron victims

National flags were lowered to half-mast at public buildings, IDF bases and Israeli missions abroad.

By Aryeh Savir, TPS

Israel marked a national day of mourning on Sunday following the death of 45 Jewish worshipers during the Lag BaOmer festivities at Mount Meron, the worst civilian tragedy in the country’s history.

The Cabinet approved on Friday the proposal of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz to declare a day of national mourning.

National flags were lowered to half-mast at public buildings, IDF bases and Israeli missions abroad.

President Reuven Rivlin lit 45 memorial candles outside Beit HaNasi on Friday in memory of the victims of the Mt. Meron tragedy.

“This is a terrible, painful day. A heartbreaking tragedy. Our prayers and thoughts are with those injured and with the families of those killed and missing in the awful tragedy at Har Meron. I send my heartfelt thanks to those working without a break since last night to rescue and give medical treatment. This is the time to embrace the families to help all those looking for their loved ones to take those injured to our hearts. To weep together,” he said.

The Jerusalem Municipality illuminated the walls of the Old City with flags as a sign of solidarity with the heavy mourning of the families of the victims.

Dozens of people gathered at the center of Tel Aviv on Saturday night to light candles in memory of the victims and mourn the tragedy together.

Thousands of Israelis, including Netanyahu, donated blood for the injured victims.

Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin decided that the Knesset plenum will hold a special mourning session on Monday

Knesset members will be allowed to light memorial candles at the entrance to the Knesset building.

“Our hearts go out to the families who lost their loved ones in the heavy disaster. On behalf of the entire Knesset, I send my best wishes for a speedy recovery to the wounded,” said Levin.

All the victims were identified by the Institute of Forensic Medicine. Some of the victims were buried on Friday and on Saturday night, and the rest will be buried Sunday.