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Emergency workers gather at the scene after dozens of people were killed and others injured in a stampede in Meron, Israel.

At least 45 people have been killed and 150 hospitalized in a stampede at a large Jewish festival in northern Israel, the deadliest civilian disaster in the country's history, AP reports.

The latest: President Biden called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday to offer condolences on behalf of the United States for those killed at Lag B'Omer.

What they're saying: "The loss of life among worshipers practicing their faith is heartbreaking," Biden said in a statement.

  • "I have instructed my team to offer our assistance to the government and people of Israel as they respond to the disaster and care for the wounded. We are also working to confirm reports that American citizens may have lost their lives or been wounded during the religious observance of Lag B’Omer."

The big picture: Tens of thousands of people gathered at Mount Meron to observe Lag BaOmer, an Orthodox Jewish holiday honoring Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, a 2nd century sage buried there, per AP.

  • The festival was the largest event of its kind held in the country since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, which has been significantly curbed by Israel's world-leading vaccine rollout.
  • Netanyahu described the incident as "one of the worst disasters that has befallen the state of Israel" while briefly visiting the site on Friday. He was jeered by protesters that blamed the government and police for failing to prevent the disaster.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with new details.

Go deeper

Aug 6, 2021 - World

Hezbollah fires rockets at Israel for first time since 2006 war

A Hezbollah flag flies on the Lebanon side of the Israel-Lebanon border. Photo: Jalaa Marey/AFP via Getty Images

Hezbollah on Friday fired 19 rockets from southern Lebanon toward Israeli military outposts on the border between the two countries. Most were intercepted by the Iron Dome system and there were no casualties, according to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

Why it matters: This is the first time Hezbollah has fired rockets on Israel and publicly taken responsibility since the 2006 war. It's a significant escalation in tensions on the Israeli-Lebanese border in recent weeks.

Ina Fried, author of Login
1 hour ago - Technology

Microsoft to buy Activision Blizzard

Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Microsoft announced Tuesday it plans to acquire video game giant Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion in cash.

Why it matters: The move comes as Activision Blizzard has faced a wave of accusations of workplace harassment.

2 hours ago - World

Blinken to visit Ukraine as Russia invasion threat looms

Blinken (R) with President Zelensky. Photo: Efrem Lukatsky/Pool via Getty

Secretary of State Antony Tony Blinken will travel to Ukraine on Tuesday as the country faces an ongoing threat of Russian invasion.

Driving the news: Blinken will meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, as well as officials at the U.S. embassy in Kyiv to discuss contingency planning. He'll then travel to Berlin to meet German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and attend a meeting of the "Transatlantic Quad" — France, Germany, the U.K. and U.S.