Twenty-six people drowned in Israel during the 2012 bathing season, which came to a close earlier this week, the Interior Ministry reported.
The ministry said the figures represent an 18 percent drop from last year, when 33 people drowned, and an even greater drop since 2010, when 38 people lost their lives.
Altogether, between 2000 and 2009, an average of 45 people died annually, the ministry reported. It said in a press released on Tuesday that the drop in drowning deaths is because of greater enforcement of safety regulations and the ministry’s PR campaigns, including ads with the tag line “if there is no lifeguard never enter the water!” According to the ministry, 80% of the drownings took place in areas where swimming was forbidden, where there was no lifeguard on staff, or after bathing hours. It added that in two of the cases the person who drowned had suffered a heart attack before or during the incident; in one the victim had an epileptic seizure, and in another at the Dead Sea, the victim swallowed a large amount of salty, brackish water before dying.
Of those who drowned, 80% were men, 69% were Jewish, 19% Arab, 8% tourists, and 4% were anonymous.
The ministry added that 69% of the drownings took place off the Mediterranean coast, 19% in the Sea of Galilee, 8% at the Dead Sea, and 4% in Eilat. Minors made up 20% of the fatalities, while adults between 19 and 45 comprised 30%.