Hiker Falls to Death in Arava

A hiker was found dead in the Arava yesterday, in the second hiking-related death in 24 hours.

Yishai Shalem, 33, of Herzliya had been missing for four days when his body was found in a dry wadi, Nahal Ketura, at the foot of a cliff. According to police investigators, he apparently slipped and fell off the cliff from a height of 50 meters. He was hiking by himself.

Just one day earlier, the body of another hiker was found at the foot of a different cliff. Eran Galil, who had also been missing for several days, was apparently killed by a fall as well.

When Shalem failed to pick up his children from kindergarten last Thursday, relatives promptly called the police, who mounted a search. Several comrades from the elite army unit in which he served also joined the effort.

On Sunday, police issued a nationwide missing person bulletin, and soon afterward, his car was found, about six kilometers west of Ketura Junction. Police then triangulated his location by calling his cell phone, after which an intensive search of the area in question was mounted. Shalem's body was finally found at 4 A.M.

"He had a special love for the desert," said his friend Yuval. "He loved to leave the city for wide-open spaces."

Yuval described Shalem as "the salt of the earth," adding: "You only meet a person like this once in a lifetime."

Shalem is survived by his parents, two children, a brother and a sister.