U.S. President Joe Biden called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to express his condolences over the “heartbreaking” tragedy in Meron that left at least 45 dead and 150 wounded on Friday.

“The United States stands with the people of Israel and with Jewish communities the world over in mourning the terrible tragedy at Mount Meron,” he said.

The president stated that the “loss of life among worshippers practicing their faith is heartbreaking” and that he has instructed his team to offer any assistance it can provide. He also said he is working to confirm reports that U.S. citizens may have lost their lives or were wounded as part of the crowd of more than 100,000.

“The people of the United States and Israel are bound together by our families, our faiths and our histories, and we will stand with our friends. Our prayers are with those who were injured and all those who lost loved ones. May their memories be a blessing,” he said.

Netanyahu thanked Biden, as well as other world leaders who shared in their grief.

“I thank him on your behalf, citizens of Israel. I also thank [Russian] President Putin, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, European leaders and leaders in the Arab world—from Bahrain, the Emirates and many other leaders who share the grief of all Israeli citizens,” he wrote on Twitter.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also phoned his Israeli counterpart, Foreign Affairs Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, telling him that the United States “stands ready to assist Israel during this difficult time.”

“[Blinken] reiterated that just as this is a tragedy for both of our countries, the bond between the United States and Israel is ironclad and that the United States mourns the lives lost alongside Israel,” according to a U.S. State Department readout.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry said that at least four American citizens are among the dead.

JNS

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