Israeli Sand Flies Cause Lawsuit Against U.S. Jewish Organizations

Parents of four students bitten by the flies during a trip to Israel allege the organizers were negligent for not alerting them to the danger.

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Two Jewish organizations in the United States are being sued for not warning students on a trip to Israel about the danger of sand flies, the Los Angeles Times reported on Thursday.

Filed by the parents of four high school students, the lawsuit alleges that the teenagers were repeatedly bitten by sand flies in Israel and contracted Leishmaniasis, a parasitic disease that causes painful skin ulcers.

The trip was “planned, hosted, conducted, led and supervised” by the Union for Reform Judaism and the North American Federation of Temple Youth, the organized youth group of Reform Judaism, the suit states.

The complaint alleges negligence, breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation and willful misconduct. The parents are seeking unspecified damages.

Though the organizers “expressly agreed” to monitor and protect the minors while abroad, they did not provide protection against sand flies, such as insecticides and insect netting, and gave the students bug-infested bedding, the suit states.

Nor did they "adequately warn the children" about known dangers or instruct the children on how to protect themselves, the suit claims.

The defendants in the lawsuit did not return requests for comment, the newspaper wrote.

An attorney representing the parents said the students have had “ongoing medical treatment with little success.” Many of their lesions have not healed in the year following the trip or have left scars, and some of the teenagers keep having new outbreaks, he said.

He added that the organizers “had previous problems” with sand flies on past trips, but failed to share the information with the parents or the participants.