Visitors: Meron a Disaster Zone
by Maayana Miskin
Tens of thousands of people are still waiting to leave Meron after celebrating the holiday of Lag Ba’Omer at the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. Many are growing anxious as they remain stranded for hours in the heat, with an inadequate supply of drinks.
Due to traffic congestion buses are unable to make their way in and out of the parking lots near the holy site at an adequate rate.
Visitors labeled organization at the site “disgusting” and “a catastrophe.” Speaking to Arutz Sheva, one said, “It’s life-threatening to try to reach Mount Meron like this.”
“We’ve been waiting for hours with no public transportation, and some of the people here don’t have enough to drink,” the visitor continued. “We’re reporting a lot of cases of fainting, and there’s still fear of the worst.”
Hareidi-religious Members of Knesset are working to bring relief for the stranded celebrants. MK Uri Maklev termed the current organizational failure “the mother of all collapses.”
“No explanation could excuse this result,” Maklev said. “This is what advance preparations were for.”
“We will draw conclusions and hold those responsible to account,” he added. Maklev said that MKs are working with a variety of parties, and hope to have a solution for the stranded visitors “soon.”
A second MK agreed, saying, “It can’t be that after so much preparation for this event, we have this kind of anger and frustration, with men, women and children reaching a point of life-threatening danger. I’m working on every level possible to restore order immediately.”
200,000 Celebrate in Meron
An estimated 200,000 people took part in an all-night celebration in Meron on Saturday night. They danced, sang, prayed and learned Torah in celebration of the holiday of Lag BaOmer, which marks the death of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.
The town of Meron is home to the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai (Rashbi), a first-century sage in ancient Israel who authored the Zohar, the primary source for Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism).
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Syrian Army Ordered Use of Chemical Weapons: Defected General
by Arutz Sheva staff
The Syrian government ordered the use chemical weapons against the Free Syrian Army (FSA) during select battles with Syrian regime forces, a defected general told Al Arabiya late Saturday.
Zahir al-Sakit, a former army general from the chemical weapons branch, told Al Arabiya that he was instructed to use chemical weapons during a regime battle with the FSA in the southwestern area of Hauran.
Instead, Sakit disobeyed the orders and substituted the chemicals with disinfectant water he called “Javel water.”
“I was given orders to execute the use of poisonous chemicals in caves and tunnels that are used by the Free Syrian Army, but I mixed all chemicals with water and used Javel water instead,” Sakit said.
He said that prior to his defection, no chemical weapons were used on his watch in battles against the FSA.
“I assure you that I ordered all chemical weapons to be buried and I can point out the exact locations of those chemicals,” Sakit told Al Arabiya.
The United States and Britain have previously accused the Syrian government of using chemical weapons in Damascus after results of the smuggled soil samples showed presence of chemicals that were used in the capital’s suburbs.
U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday warned Syria that using chemical weapons would be a “game changer,” after the U.S., Israel and Britain all cited signs that the regime attacked with the deadly agent sarin.
Meanwhile Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told members of Knesset on Sunday to refrain from voicing concern over the mounting evidence of chemical weapons use in Syria, in an effort to avoid the impression Israel is pushing the international community into armed intervention.
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