One Dead, Three Missing Due to Inclement Weather as Passover Vacation Begins

Over 80 people were rescued after being blown out into the Kinneret or capsizing due to strong winds; hiker's death under investigation

Rescuers search for the three missing people on the shore of the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel, April 12, 2017.
Gil Eliahu

A man died on Wednesday on a hike near the Dead Sea. The cause of his death is still not clear. In addition, three people went missing after they were swept away from the shore by strong winds on the Sea of Galilee. The search for the three is continuing. Two of the missing had been on an area of the shore that was not an official beach and lacked lifeguards.

The hiker who died, in his 40s, was with another hiker in the Arugot Stream, near Ein Gedi. The Israel Nature and Parks Authority along with the Ein Gedi rescue squad tried to resuscitate the man, but failed. The incident is still under investigation.

The Lake Kinneret Authority said a couple was swept out about a kilometer into the lake on an inflatable mattress. A jet ski watercraft rescued the woman, who said her partner was still in the water. Another person was also swept out into the lake on a similar inflatable mattress, and said his friend was still missing.

In addition, a number of youths entered the water on a similar mattress and they too were swept out far into the lake, but managed to return safely to shore – except for one who is still missing.

Because of the weather conditions and strong winds, the hours that lifeguards are on duty was extended to 7 P.M. The Kinneret Authority has instructed people not to bathe at unsupervised beaches on the lake, nor to enter deep water, nor to use inflatable mattresses or inner tubes.

Starting Wednesday morning, the marine police unit had rescued over 80 people who were blown out into the lake or who capsized because of the strong winds. The police are continuing to search for the missing on the lake and on shore. A team of divers, mounted police, volunteers and a police helicopter are also participating in the search.

The beach at the Halukim-Levanon-Kursi camp ground was closed, as were the Tze’elon, Shikmim and Bereniki beaches because they were full.

About 20,000 people spent Wednesday at the 15 beaches of Lake Kinneret, and 40,000 people have come to the beach there since the beginning of Passover on Monday.

The INPA announced that starting on Wednesday afternoon, hikers will not be allowed to enter streams with flowing water.