The number of people who drowned on Israeli beaches in 2023 thus far is almost the same as the number of drownings from all of 2022, according to data presented at the Knesset Interior Committee on Sunday.
According to the data presented, compiled in a report by the Knesset's Information and Research Center, which covered the period between April 2022 and June 2023, 30 people died of drowning in 2022. In 2023, the number of drownings as of July 10 is 24.
In the current beach season, there are currently 156 beaches throughout Israel declared for bathing. This is just 7% of all the beaches in Israel, with more than half banned for bathing and the rest – around 37% of all beaches – being undeclared.
Of the 30 people who drowned last year, 26 of them did so during beach season, which began in April 2022 and ended at the end of October 2022. Five people drowned on declared beaches despite the presence of rescue services, but the other 21 died when no rescue services were available. Further, 10 people drowned on beaches banned for bathing, and three did so on undeclared.
Thirteen drowning victims were between the ages of 19 and 50, eight victims were aged 60 or older, and the two youngest were aged 16 and 18. The vast majority of the drowning victims were men.
Number of drowning deaths increases exponentially in Israel
In 2023, the beach season began on March 29 and will end on October 14. Of the 24 people who died from drowning thus far, 21 died during the current beach season, six of whom died despite the presence of rescue services. Nine victims drowned on beaches that were never declared.
The data presented concluded that most drownings took place either at an undeclared beach or in a place where there were no rescue services available.
"The trend that emerges from this report is that we are already facing a number of deaths approaching the number accumulated in the entirety of last year," Interior Committee chairman MK Yakov Asher (United Torah Judaism) said. "This requires drawing conclusions from the data and taking immediate action. We will examine all aspects of this issue and how it can be improved to make sure that we will do everything necessary to save the lives of beach-goers."
Yesh Atid MK Simon Davidson, chairman of the Israeli Coastal Cities and Authorities Caucus, added: "From the data, it seems time and time again, the majority of those who drown do so on an undeclared beach. I almost lost my wife there, and this is despite the fact that I'm a professional swimmer, but even a European champion can't fight the sea.
"With the help of more awareness and increasing the number of declared beaches, we can save lives."