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Northeast Ohio man among dozens dead in stampede at religious festival in Israel

Israel Festival Stampede
Posted at 10:21 PM, Apr 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-30 22:21:28-04

CLEVELAND — The Jewish Federation of Cleveland said on Friday that Yossi Kohn, a Cleveland-area man who was visiting Israel, was among the dozens killed in a stampede at a religious festival.

Kohn was one of tens of thousands of people who attended the festival to honor a 2nd century rabbi buried at Israel’s Mount Meron. The holiday is popular primarily with ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Eli Beer, director of the Hatzalah ambulance service, said the event was overcrowded. “Close to 40 people died as a result of this tragedy,” he told Army Radio.

The cause of the stampede was not immediately clear. But witnesses described a terrifying site, with people crushed in a small area. Forty-five people were reported to have died in the stampede.

Friday's disaster prompted a national outpouring of grief. Devastated families rushed to identify the dead and bury them ahead of the Jewish Sabbath.

But there was also anger toward authorities over an accident that experts had long warned could happen.

The tragedy comes days before a deadline for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to form a new government.

Netanyahu called for national unity, but public anger and grief could further cloud his hopes of remaining in office.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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