Israeli Pre-army Academy That Sent 10 Teens to Their Deaths Won't Reopen This Year

Bnei Zion academy 'has yet to complete all the required processes' following death of 10 of its students in 2018 flood, Education Ministry committee says

  Ella Or, Gali Balel, Agam Levi, Shani Samir, Adi Ra’anan, Yael Sadan, Maayan Barhum, Romi Cohen and Tzur Alfi were killed in a flash flood April 27, 2018

The Bnei Zion pre-army academy will not reopen this year following the death of 10 of its students in a flood in the Negev in 2018, the special committee established by the Education Ministry following the disaster has decided, Israel's Channel 12 News reported on Thursday.

The committee determined that the "academy has yet to complete all the required processes to improve its educational methods, organizational structure, and financial strength."

The committee pointed out that, "although the academy has drawn conclusions from the tragedy and administrative and organizational steps were taken, they are not yet sufficient to reopen the academy."

>> Father of Israeli teen killed on a trip alongside her classmates is demanding justice

It was also noted that the academy appointed a new principal just 11 months after the disaster, adding that the "academy's vision has not changed" following the deadly incident.

The ten victims, nine girls and one boy of around 18 years old, were killed when they were swept away by flash floods during a hike at Nahal Tsafit, south of the Dead Sea, in April 2018.

The board of directors of the Bnei Zion pre-army academy and its executive committee issued a statement in response to the committee's decision: "We will always remember the tragic deaths of Ella Or, Gali Balel, Agam Levi, Shani Samir, Adi Ra’anan, Yael Sadan, Maayan Barhum, Romi Cohen and Tzur Alfi.

"The academy joins the bereaved families' call to establish an independent state commission of inquiry. The heads of the academy assumed responsibility for the disaster, while deciding to close the academy for a year in order to conduct a comprehensive self-examination, at the end of which a document elaborating key points the academy has to improve on matters of safety and education," the statement said.

"Despite the many changes that have been done, we will review the Education Ministry's decision and will examine our future step," it added. 

Attorneys Eli Zohar and Efrat Reitan, who represent the parents of the teens killed in the disaster, said in a statement: "The decision to close the Bnei Zion pre-army academy, which was made by the government ministries that were supposed to oversee the activities of all the academies in the country, including the Bnei Zion academy, doesn't solve the problems of other academies nor does it absolve government officials of their responsibility for the tragedy."
 
"The Education Ministry's ongoing eye-shutting and the lack of supervision and appropriate regulation are very alarming. We harshly view the fact that 11 months have passed and the prime minister has not fulfilled his promise to establish an independent commission of inquiry to investigate the disaster and to prevent its reoccurrence in the future," the statement read.

In November, the academy published a report and announced it would reopen in 2019 and begin enlisting new students. Nonetheless, the academy mentioned that it doesn't directly address the Tzafit Stream disaster in its report since the matter was still being investigated by the police.