Americans among 45 dead in Israel stampede

Among those killed were two U.S. teenagers.

April 30, 2021, 7:17 PM

Multiple Americans were among those killed and injured in a stampede in Israel that's killed dozens, the State Department said Friday.

The State Department has not released the number of Americans involved, but the Consulate General of Israel in New York said four of the 45 people reported dead were American citizens.

PHOTO: Ultra-Orthodox Jews mourn during the funeral of Moshe Ben Shalom at a cemetery in Petah Tikva, Israel, April 30, 2021. Shalom died in a stampede at a religious festival in Mt. Meron, northern Israel.
Ultra-Orthodox Jews mourn during the funeral of Moshe Ben Shalom at a cemetery in Petah Tikva, Israel, April 30, 2021. Moshe Ben Shalom was among those killed during a stampede at a religious festival attended by tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews in Mt. Meron, northern Israel.
Oded Balilty/AP
PHOTO: Mourners carry the body of Rabbi Eliezer Goldberg, who died in the stampeded during religious celebrations at Mt. Meron in northern Israel, at his funeral in Jerusalem, April 30, 2021.
Mourners carry the body of Rabbi Eliezer Goldberg, who died in the stampeded during religious celebrations at Mt. Meron in northern Israel, at his funeral in Jerusalem, April 30, 2021.
Ariel Schalit/AP

Among the Americans killed was 19-year-old Daniel "Donny" Morris of Bergenfield, New Jersey, said his uncle, Rabbi Yechiel Morris.

He said his nephew was studying in Israel for the year on a gap program.

"We are all shocked and devastated," Yechiel Morris said. "There are no words."

Other American victims included Yosef Amram Tauber, 18, of Monsey, New York; Eliezer Josef, 26, of Kiryas Joel, New York; and Shraga Gestetner, 33, of Monsey, New York. Gestetner was originally from Montreal.

PHOTO: Daniel "Donny" Morris from Bergenfield, N.J. is one of the Americans who died in the stampede in Israel, April 29, 2021. The 19-year-old was studying in Israel for the year on a gap program.
Daniel "Donny" Morris from Bergenfield, N.J. is one of the Americans who died in the stampede in Israel, April 29, 2021. The 19-year-old was studying in Israel for the year on a gap program.
Courtesy Rabbi Yechiel Morris

"Our Embassy and Department of State will provide all necessary support to any U.S. citizens and their family members affected," President Joe Biden said earlier on Friday.

In addition to those killed, at least 150 others were hospitalized -- nearly two dozen in critical condition -- after the stampede around midnight Friday at Mount Meron during Lag BaOmer festivities, according to the Israeli Health Ministry.

PHOTO: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits Mount Meron, northern Israel, where fatalities were reported among the thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews gathered for annual commemorations that include all-night prayer and dance, April 30, 2021.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits Mount Meron, northern Israel, where fatalities were reported among the thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews gathered at the tomb of a 2nd-century sage for annual commemorations that include all-night prayer and dance, April 30, 2021.
Ronen Zvulun/Pool via Shutterstock

"The Meron disaster is one of the worst disasters in the history of Israel. We mourn the dead, our hearts go out to the families of those wounded, to them we wish a full recovery," Prime Ministry Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement Friday.

"We have seen here heart-breaking sights, people who were crushed to death, including children," he said. "A large number of the fatalities have not yet been identified."

PHOTO: Security officials and rescuers gather near the bodies of victims who died in a stampede overnight during a religious gatheringin northern Israel, during a religious gathering.
Security officials and rescuers gather near the bodies of victims who died in a stampede overnight during a religious gathering in Meron in northern Israel, where mainly ultra-Orthodox Jews flock to mark the Lag BaOmer holiday. Editor's note: Faces have been blurred by United Hatzalah.
Behadrei Haredim/United Hatzalah via AFP via Getty Images
PHOTO: People gather at the site where a stampede killed scores as thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews gathered an annual commemoration that includes all-night prayer and dance, in Mount Meron, Israel, April 30, 2021.
People gather at the site where a stampede killed scores as thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews gathered an annual commemoration that includes all-night prayer and dance, in Mount Meron, Israel, April 30, 2021.
Abir Sultan/EPA via Shutterstock

"I have to point out here the speedy rescue effort of the police and the other security and rescue organizations, we are grateful to them. Their work prevented an even larger disaster," he continued. "We will conduct a thorough investigation so such a disaster will not happen again."

PHOTO: Ultra Orthodox Jews look at stairs littered with refuse in Mount Meron, northern Israel, where a stampede killed scores during an annual religious commemoration that include all-night prayer and dance, April 30, 2021.
Ultra Orthodox Jews look at stairs littered with refuse in Mount Meron, northern Israel, where a stampede killed scores during an annual religious commemoration that include all-night prayer and dance, April 30, 2021.
Ronen Zvulun/Reuters
PHOTO: Israeli security officials and rescuers carry a body of a victim who died during a Lag Ba'Omer celebrations at Mt. Meron in northern Israel, Friday, April 30, 2021.
Israeli security officials and rescuers carry a body of a victim who died during a Lag Ba'Omer celebrations at Mt. Meron in northern Israel, Friday, April 30, 2021.
AP

The MDA said helicopters were sent to work with ambulances to bring victims to Ziv Hospital in Safed and Galil Medical Center in Nahariya.

Lag BaOmer is an annual celebration on the anniversary of the death of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, a 2nd century sage who was buried in a tomb at Mount Meron in northern Israel. The festivities include pilgrimages to bar Yochai's tomb and lighting bonfires and celebrating throughout the night.

PHOTO: Medics and rescue workers attend to the Lag B'Omer event in Mount Meron, northern Israel, where fatalities were reported among thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews gathered at the tomb of a 2nd-century sage for annual commemorations, April 30, 2021.
Medics and rescue workers attend to the Lag B'Omer event in Mount Meron, northern Israel, where fatalities were reported among the thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews gathered at the tomb of a 2nd-century sage for annual commemorations that include all-night prayer and dance, April 30, 2021.
Stringer/Reuters
PHOTO: Jewish worshippers sing and dance as they stand on tribunes at the Lag B'Omer event in Mount Meron, northern Israel, April 29, 2021.
Jewish worshippers sing and dance as they stand on tribunes at the Lag B'Omer event in Mount Meron, northern Israel, April 29, 2021.
Stringer/Reuters

Netanyahu declared Sunday a national day of mourning.

Biden said he spoke with Netanyahu to offer his "profound condolences" and said the U.S. was offering assistance to Israel.

"Our prayers are with those who were injured and all those who lost loved ones," Biden said. "May their memories be a blessing."

ABC News' Bruno Nota, Molly Nagle, Christine Theodorou, Aaron Katersky and Rashid Haddou contributed to this report.

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