Heat Wave in Israel Claims First Death

YERUSHALAYIM -
A car covered for protection from the sun and heat in one of Israel’s hottest spots, near the Dead Sea. (Nati Shohat/Flash 90)
A car covered for protection from the sun and heat in one of Israel’s hottest spots, near the Dead Sea. (Nati Shohat/Flash 90)

This week’s heat wave claimed its first fatality on Tuesday as an 18-year-old IDF soldier, Private Dan Sela, succumbed to sun stroke during an army tour in Yerushalayim.

Sela, from Afula, was rushed to Share Zedek Medical Center, but doctors’ attempts to save him failed.

The IDF opened an investigation to ascertain whether there was negligence involved, and Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkott instructed officers to heed military regulations regarding activity in severe heat conditions.

In Maaleh Adumim, a 59-year-old man collapsed in a factory, apparently due to the heat, and was taken to the hospital in serious condition, Arutz Sheva reported.

A baby who suffered dehydration during a family trip in the Jordan Valley on Monday remains in critical condition.

A group of about 200 yeshivah students hiking near the Yagur River nature reserve in the Galil lost their way. Rescue services found them before any serious incidents occurred, but they were staggering from the brutal heat and lack of water.

In Bnei Brak, where the summers tend to be steamy anyway, it was business pretty much as usual.

Yisrael Meir, from Zichron Yaakov in the cooler north, was shopping in midtown Bnei Brak. “I went from the heat wave in the street into the air-conditioned stores, back out to the steambath, and back into the stores again, dripping with perspiration,” he told Hamodia. “Couldn’t believe it.”

“But I must give them credit. Wherever I went, people were very nice,” though he added that it could be they just grew up with it and it doesn’t bother them so much.

Some people found that keeping their sense of humor going, along with the air conditioners, helped them to cope.

Moshe Nalik commutes from his home in Telz Stone to Yerushalayim. He told Hamodia that when he was younger he used to dream “about being an old man who needs to wear two sweaters in the summer. But years later I’ve discovered that I’m not a two-sweater guy.

“I grew up in St. Louis, where the heat was terrible,” he said, and so he did not require so much of an adjustment to the Mideast summer. At home, they didn’t start using the fans this year until Erev Tishah B’Av.

Still, he noted that the air conditioning on the Egged buses in Yerushalayim rarely works the way it should. “It’s been hot!” he says.

His wife said that she must be blessed because “the heat just doesn’t bother me,” and she only turns on the air conditioning for her husband just before he gets home from work.

Some relief, however temporary, was forecast by the Israel Meteorological Service.

“We are expecting it to be slightly less warm in the next two days, but it will become very warm again on the weekend,” said Dr. Amos Porat, head of the IMS Climate Department.

In Tzefas, it was expected to reach as high as 95 on Wednesday, Teverya over 100, Yerushalayim in the 90s.

The hottest temperatures were forecast for Ein Gedi (107) on the Dead Sea and Eilat (109).

One person who lives in the central region suggested that as difficult as the conditions are, we still have much to be thankful for.

After all, she said, “it’s only a heat wave” and not a permanent situation, and she is grateful that we have modern devices to make it more bearable, especially for the sick and elderly.