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  • Israel’s lifeguards are there to keep you safe so beach time can remain carefree. Your job is to adhere to the signs, follow the rules, and stay out of the way of those aggressive paddleballs.
Hasekeh
This is the lifeguards' oar-propelled surfboard. Swimmers aren't supposed to touch it. Photo by Alon Ron
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A day at the beach in Israel can be trickier than one might assume, what with the need to negotiate chair rentals, side-step the odd jellyfish and dodge paddleballs. When it comes to safety, one must pay close attention – easier said than done on foreign shores.

Beach season along the Mediterranean coast starts in April and goes through October. During this time, lifeguards are on duty at all the main public beaches, according to the Ministry of Tourism, which recommends swimmers stick to beaches only where lifeguards are stationed.

During this peak summer season, lifeguards are on watch from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. After those hours, it’s advised to stay out of the water and enjoy the sunset from a lounge chair.

When the surf is violent, or at certain sections of the beach, posted signs state that swimming is forbidden. It's not uncommon to see a dozen swimmers right there blatantly ignoring the warning, however. One can be forgiven for feeling confused and tempted to join in but it’s still recommended to adhere to the rules.

Keep an eye out for the color-coded flags indicating whether it’s safe to enter the water: white = safe, red = dangerous, black = forbidden.

Along with the whack of the paddleball and the calls of the ice-cream man, nothing captures the sound of an Israeli beach quite like the amplified yell of the multilingual lifeguards, who collectively seem to take great pleasure in hearing their own voice. Most of the time, they’re just telling someone to come closer to the shore or helping a lost kid find his parents.

They’re there to protect you so don’t be afraid to ask for clarification about the conditions if you’re unsure. And if the water isn’t the best place to be at the moment, there is always plenty to do on the sand.