Israeli youth leaders arrested for negligence after floods kill 10 hiking teenagers
Israeli soldiers walk towards a military helicopter during a search mission for several young people missing near Arava in southern Israel after flash floods swept through the area while they were hiking near the Dead Sea on April 26, 2018. (Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images) April 27 at 6:33 AM Email the author
JERUSALEM â" Israeli police on Friday arrested three youth leaders from an academy on charges of negligence after floods swept away 10 teenage hikers in the countryâs southern desert region.
The unseasonable flooding also claimed the lives of four others over the course of two days and prompted a dramatic rescue attempt involving search teams and helicopters.
The 10 hikers, nine girls and one boy, were part of a group of 25 mostly 18-year-olds studying in a post-high school, pre-military educational academy, whose leaders appeared to have ignored warnings from the local meteorological service about the possibility of such floods in the area.
[10 teenagers swept away by flash flood in Israelâs desert]
Just a day earlier, a 16-year-old boy and a 17-year-old girl from the areaâs nomadic Bedouin community lost their lives in separate incidents when unseasonable torrential rains hit the arid desert region, where even a small amount of rainfall can cause powerful flooding, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported
It was also reported that two Palestinian children, ages 9 and 10, died while playing near a reservoir when it flooded near the West Bank city of Hebron Thursday.
It is common for Israeli teenagers to take a gap year following the completion of high school before they start their compulsory military serv ice in order to further their studies. Gaining a place at such an institution is competitive and highly sought after.
Israelâs Hadashot television news published a WhatsApp exchange between one the girls who was killed and a friend, showing her complaining about having to go on the hike in such weather and fearing for her life.
âWe could end up dying there,â wrote the girl to her friend.
On Thursday, Israeli television stations canceled scheduled broadcasts to provide live coverage of the dramatic rescue operation, which included the use of five military helicopters and search and rescue teams from a special unit. The search continued until nightfall and resumed Friday morning when a final girl was found.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it a âdisasterâ and said âIsrael was grieving over the promising young lives that were cut off by this tragedy.â
Police officials said they were also still searching for the driver a truck involved in a road accident in the area where the flooding struck.
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