Knesset panel demands early warning system for flash floods

May 15, 2018 17:20
2 minute read.
Israeli rescue service personnel operate near the site where 10 Israeli youths were swept away by a

Israeli rescue service personnel operate near the site where 10 Israeli youths were swept away by a flash flood south of the Dead Sea on April 26. (photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)


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Following the deaths by drowning of 10 teenagers in Nahal Tzafit in the Arava late last month, the Knesset Science and Technology Committee called for the establishment of a system to forecast flash floods.

Committee chairman Uri Maklev (United Torah Judaism) said on Monday that if technological systems had been active in the field, the disaster of Nahal Tzafit would have been avoided. He called on Eli Groner, the director- general of the Prime Minister’s Office, to assign a responsible body to translate the existing information into a warning system on the ground. “It is painful to hear how much the death of the youths was totally unnecessary and preventable.”

The nine young man and one young man were swept away on April 26, during a hike organized by the Bnei Zion pre-military academy in Tel Aviv. A day or two before, a Beduin youth died in a flash flood, and following the Bnei Zion incident, an Arab truck driver was found dead in a similar incident as well.

“The most urgent conclusion from the tragic deaths of the youth in Nahal Tzafit is not the type of punishment or the blame for the person who organized the trip, which will prevent the next disaster. We are talking about a number of very defined places that do not spread over thousands of kilometers. A warning system has to be implemented now,” Maklev said.

MK Haim Jelin (Yesh Atid) said: “We have a culture of rescuing – bring the supertanker from abroad to put out fires and to be heroes, but not to think before disaster happens.

Moshe Rubin, the founder an umbrella body for civilian rescue, presented the document he had tried to push before the disaster in Nahal Tzafit: “We demand that there be an alert system for floods and exceptional events that would operate under the aegis of the government and provide information to the general public in all forms of communication and media.”

Dr. Amir Givati of the Israel Water Authority said in a discussion that the forecasting systems clearly indicated on the morning of the disaster in Nahal Tzafit what would happen. A warning system will save many lives, he said.

Dr. Amit Savir of the Meteorological Services noted: “We are members of a global meteorological organization. There is a clear technological protocol on the distribution of information according to forecasting, for example in the US where a tornado hit translates into a siren that alerts the public. It may be impossible to define an exact place and time, but it is certainly possible to delineate the area at risk.”

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