Thousands Remember Teens Lost in Negev Flash Flood

YERUSHALAYIM -
Hundreds are seen mourning during the funeral of Ella Or in Mishor Adummim on Friday. Ella was killed a day earlier along with nine other teens when they were swept in a flooding at the Tzafit Stream during a trip near the Dead Sea. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Thousands gathered Motzoei Shabbos in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv for a memorial rally after the deaths of 10 teens in a flash flood last Thursday in southern Israel. The 10, who were on an outing sponsored by the Bnai Zion pre-military academy in Tel Aviv, were all between 17 and 19 years of age. Another 15 teens were injured in the tragedy.

Danny Zamir, head of the Israel Council of pre-military academies, said at the Tel Aviv event that “we all feel the pain of this loss of these teens, who were killed in the terrible tragedy. These are difficult days, too difficult for us to bear. We embrace the families who experienced loss, and participate in their pain. We must study the details of this tragedy. We ask that the relevant authorities reach the necessary conclusions to ensure that tragedies like this do not repeat themselves.”

On Motzoei Shabbos, the Education Ministry and Defense Ministry announced that a joint committee would work with pre-military academies to determine rules regarding outings in those institutions. The committee will determine rules and procedures regarding outings. Until now, institutions were on their own in making those determinations, the Ministries said.

Meanwhile, a counselor in the Bnai Zion academy who had been in custody was released after testifying that she had warned against the outing due to the harsh weather conditions. According to a report on Hadashot News on Motzoei Shabbos, she told senior staff at the academy that it would be better “not to take a chance,” and cancel the outing. According to her attorney, “in the end it was not her decision, and those who made the decision decided not to take her advice.”

The 10 teens were on an outing organized by the school when they were swept away by a flash flood near Nachal Tzafit, a riverbed in the Arava located east of the Dead Sea.

The remand for two staff members of the academy – including the dean of the academy, and the head of staff – were extended Friday, after police took them into custody on charges of causing death by way of negligence over their decision to allow the outing to take place, despite the inclement weather and flood warnings for the region. The road where the tragedy occurred had not been closed by police, and no special permits were needed from security authorities in order to hike there.

The Water Authority said over the weekend that the storm that caused the flash flood in Nachal Tzafit was caused by what was the strongest spring storm to hit Israel in the past eight years. “This weather event was particularly strong and particularly lengthy,” the Authority said, adding that the storm affected all areas of the country, with Beit She’an hit hardest – with 72 millimeters of rain falling in one hour.