Israel held a national day of mourning on May 2 for 45 people crushed to death two days earlier in a stampede after a Lag Ba’omer celebration attended by an estimated 100,000 people on Mount Meron. Flags flew at half mast on public buildings, military bases and Israeli embassies around the world after the country buried the victims. “There must be and will be a thorough, in-depth and real investigation to discover how and why this happened,” said Public Security Minister Amir Ohana, offering condolences to the families of the victims and wishes for a swift recovery to some 150 people injured in the worst civilian tragedy in Israel’s history.
President Reuven Rivlin on May 5 gave Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid the chance to form a coalition after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to do so. Lapid has until June 2 to consolidate his so-called “bloc for change” and establish what he called a unity government with Yamina leader Naftali Bennett. “We need a government that will reflect the fact that we don’t hate each other,” Lapid said before he and Bennett began marathon talks to strike a deal in which they would rotate the premiership. Bennett urged rightwing parties to join “a broad emergency government” to avoid a fifth election in two years.