Lag Ba'Omer celebratios in Meron
Lag Ba'Omer celebratios in MeronDavid Cohen/Flash 90

The IDF announced on Thursday evening that it has decided to cancel the annual Hillula of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Rashbi), which is held annually in Meron on Lag Ba'Omer.

"In accordance with an assessment of the situation in the IDF and in coordination with the relevant bodies, it was decided to cancel the festivities on Meron, between the dates of May 24 and 27, 2024. This, in accordance with the powers stipulated in the Civil Defense Law," the IDF stated.

Major General Rafi Milo, the commander of the Home Front Command, wrote in an opinion he published that "as part of the recent situational assessments, I was informed of the planning for the event in question, which is expected to be held between the dates of May 24 and 27, 2024, as part of the traditional Lag Ba'Omer events at the grave of the Rashbi in Meron."

"According to the available information, in recent years more than 200,000 people participated throughout the Hillula, and at certain times about 50,000 people were present in the complex at the same time. After examining the information and the various considerations concerning the event, and according to the assessments of the situation that took place recently - I found that holding the event at the present time may cause actual harm to human life. Despite the importance of the event and its many years of tradition, and according to the latest assessments of the situation, it is not possible to hold the event in the format in which it took place in the past, and such a gathering cannot be allowed there," Milo added.

He noted that "closer to the event, the Home Front Command will order the restriction of gatherings in the Meron area and the closing of the areas where the events will take place in order to allow the Israel Police to prevent entry to them, in accordance with the arrangement that will be formulated between the Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage and the Israel Police. Until the time of the planned event, there will be additional situation assessments to examine whether there will be changes in the operational situation assessments. If there are changes in the situation assessment by the time of the event, the Home Front Command will update the instructions accordingly."

"There is a significant threat from the Hezbollah organization and the Hamas organization in Lebanon, through the firing of anti-tank missiles, as well as the launching of aerial weapons into this area. As evidence of this, in the last two months, several serious attacks have been carried out towards this area in which dozens of rockets and a few anti-tank missiles were fired, which caused various injuries in the area and a real risk to human life," continued Milo, who noted that the Meron area lacks sufficient means of protection, causing a concern "that when an alert is activated in the area, the many people present will be harmed while trying to get to protected areas."

"I would like to point out that I am aware of the importance of the event, as well as the desire to reach the site of the Hillula on this great day. However, the concern for the safety and security of the thousands of people and the responsibility for protecting the lives of worshipers outweighs any other consideration," he concluded.