Deadly weekend claims lives of two hikers

Rescue personnel urge coordination with rangers when setting out in wilderness.

dead body arava 248.88 (photo credit: Channel 10)
dead body arava 248.88
(photo credit: Channel 10)
The deaths of two lone hikers have highlighted the importance of taking proper precautions when going out unaccompanied on dangerous trails. The body of a young man found in the Judean Desert over the weekend was positively identified by forensics experts on Sunday night as 22-year-old Eran Galil, who went missing on Thursday during a hike in the area. An autopsy is scheduled to determine the cause of death. Search and rescue personnel located human remains in Nahal Arugot while looking for Galil on Sunday afternoon, and the body was transferred to the Abu Kabir Institute of Forensic Medicine, where it underwent the identification process. Galil, from Gedera, was reported missing on Saturday, when the Nature and Parks Authority rangers noticed his car, which had not been moved for days, parked near the entrance to one of the trails at the David River Reservation. After attempts to contact Galil proved futile, rangers informed police, along with local search and rescue teams, of the possibility of a lost hiker in the area. The massive search operation included hundreds of police and volunteers, as well as a helicopter. Once the remains were located, an Air Force Extraction Unit (Unit 669) helicopter was dispatched to the scene to assist in the transport. "This was an experienced hiker who enjoyed setting out on treks by himself," a Southern District police spokesman told The Jerusalem Post on Monday. "But we believe that he fell somewhere near the creek and into the riverbed, where he was found." On Monday morning, volunteer search and rescue workers found another man's body near the bottom of a cliff in the Negev Desert. Authorities believed it to be the body of a 33-year-old father of two from Herzliya, who began a solo trek in the area on Thursday and last contacted his family on Friday. The body was found in Nahal Ketura, some 20 miles north of Eilat. "This is one of, if not the most, beautiful places in Israel, and it's important that people keep coming here to hike and explore," said Meirav Ayalon, spokeswoman for Ein Gedi's search and rescue unit. "That said, the desert has its own rules which must be adhered to." Ayalon stressed the importance of bringing plenty of water and a detailed map before setting out on any trek, but said that the most important tip for hikers was to coordinate their plans with local park rangers. "Hikers shouldn't be shy in approaching the rangers and other park personnel for help or advice," Ayalon said. "If they are planning a long hike, it's imperative that they let rangers know where they're going and that they remain in contact with them. Often, cellphone service is shaky in the desert, and it's important that rangers are aware of any hikers out in the field." Ayalon also said hikers should be aware of the wide array of wildlife in the desert. "During the day, the desert seems quiet, but at night, it belongs to the animals, and they have their own rules," she said. "That's why it's advisable to return from hikes before dark, and besides, because of the extreme heat here over the summer, it's best that hikers finish up by early afternoon."