Police continued a large search effort for three vacationers into Thursday night, after the young men were swept away by strong winds at Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee) the previous day.
Nachman Itach, 21, from Betar Illit, Itamar Ohana, 19, from Kiryat Shmona, and Liron Karadi, 17, from Netanya, went missing in separate incidents while lounging on inflatable mattresses on the lake.
“We continued searching throughout the night and we started this morning with bigger search teams. The focus is on the eastern [part of the lake], where they were last seen,” Northern District Police spokesman Yaki Ohana told The Jerusalem Post
on Thursday. The search is concentrated some 300 meters from Lavnun Beach.
Police used helicopters, boats, and divers to search for the missing youths, along with Zaka rescue units and volunteers using private boats.
Uri Karadi, Liron’s uncle, lambasted the authorities, saying there were not enough lifeguards and resources at Lavnun Beach to handle the influx of vacationers during the Passover break. “When they went to the lifeguard, he didn’t even have one jet ski, which is the minimum for such a large beach,” Karadi said. “If rescue teams would have operated differently with the necessary equipment, they could have prevented a major disaster here.
“There is one lifeguard here, which is just a joke for the thousands of children here,” Karadi continued. “My nephew shouted for help, but there was no one to turn to, and when he tried [to summon aid, the lifeguards] did not have the tools.”
The three young men all went missing within a short time of one another, at around 11 a.m. First, Itach and his girlfriend were swept away on an inflatable mattress, which flipped over. A civilian on a jet ski rescued the woman and returned for Itach, but he was no longer in sight.
Liron Karadi and another teenager drifted out to sea as their inflatable mattress apparently deflated, police said. One teenager was rescued by the same civilian; Karadi was not.
Ohana was with two other teenagers when they were swept away by the strong winds. The two others were able to save themselves, police said, while Ohana remained lost.
Hananal Itach, Nachman’s sister, posted on Facebook on Wednesday asking for friends to pray for her brother. “Please read psalms that he will successfully return to us,” she said. “The uncertainty is suffocating and exhausting!” Northern District Police said that more than 80 people were rescued by coastal police officers on the Kinneret on Wednesday after being swept away or overturned while lounging on inflatable mattresses.
Over the week of Passover, tens of thousands of Israelis flock to parks and nature preserves, including at the Kinneret. In a statement on Thursday, police recommended that anyone entering the lake leave someone on the beach who can immediately call the police if they are swept out by the wind. The police also recommended against using inflatable devices that increase the chances of that happening and said vacationers should stay in shallow waters.
“In general, it is advisable not to enter the water alone, especially for small children, but accompanied by another person,” police said.
Also on Wednesday, a man in his 40s died from apparent dehydration while hiking at Nahal Arugot near the Dead Sea, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority said. His body was evacuated by helicopter after police and Parks Authority rescue units attempted to resuscitate him.
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