Israeli rescue service: 44 killed in stampede at festival

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli medical officials say at least 44 people have been killed in a stampede at an overcrowded Jewish religious festival in northern Israel. Tens of thousands of people, mostly ultra-Orthodox Jews in northern Israel, attended the celebrations of Lag BaOmer at Mount Meron. Crowds gather each year at Israel’s Mount Meron to Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, a 2nd century sage and mystic who is buried there. Large crowds traditionally light bonfires, pray and dance as part of the celebrations. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it a “great tragedy” and said everyone was praying for the victims.