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NJ teen, Donny Morris, identified among Americans killed in Israel stampede

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A New Jersey teenager has been identified as one of six Americans — and four New York metro area residents — killed in the deadly stampede at a religious festival in Israel last week.

Donny Morris, 19, was in Israel studying when he was caught in a crush of people during the annual Lag Ba’omer festival at the foot of Mount Meron late Thursday and is among 45 people known to have been killed in the tragedy, NBC News reported Sunday.

Three other area residents — Menachem Knoblowitz of Borough Park, Yosef Amram of Monsey, and Eliezer Josef of Kiryas Joel — were identified as victims of the horrific “human avalanche,” according to reports.

“There are four families that are in the New York area that we are in touch with, and the consulate in New York is helping them,” Lior Haiat, a spokesman for Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the outlet.

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men take part in a funeral ceremony in Jerusalem for a victim of an overnight stampede during a religious gathering in northern Israel.
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men take part in a funeral ceremony in Jerusalem for a victim of an overnight stampede during a religious gathering in northern Israel.
AFP via Getty Images

“There are two other families from Canada and one from Argentina and we’re also in touch with their families,” Haiat said.

Authorities said they are still working to determine if other Americans were killed.

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In addition to the dead, more than 100 people were injured Friday during the festival, which draws tens of thousands of people, primarily ultra-Orthodox Jews, to the tomb of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, a revered ancient Jewish mystic.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the site of an overnight stampede during an ultra-Orthodox religious gathering in the northern Israeli town of Meron.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the site of an overnight stampede during an ultra-Orthodox religious gathering in the northern Israeli town of Meron.
POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Israel’s health ministry said 32 of the dead had been identified by late Friday but said the Jewish Sabbath halted the process until early Sunday, NBC said.

Commander Shimon Lavi, the police official in charge of security arrangements for this year’s festival, said Friday that he took “overall responsibility” for the tragedy.

According to reports, police briefly blocked a stairway at the bottom of a passageway where festival-goers sought to flee.

Rescue workers take a dead body into an ambulance after dozens were killed in a crush at a religious festival in Mount Meron.
Rescue workers take a dead body into an ambulance after dozens were killed in a crush at a religious festival in Mount Meron.
Getty Images

The stampede took place after a grandstand at the foot of Mount Meron collapsed, prompting hundreds to try to flee to safety — only for many to get trampled.

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On Saturday, dozens of Israelis, many furious over the tragedy, held a “silent fury” vigil outside the home of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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