Man Killed When Cliff Collapses on Netanya Beach Campout

One person was killed and another was injured early yesterday morning in a landslide on a beach near Netanya.

Harel Berlin, 26, of Kfar Monash, was camping with friends under a cliff on the Tzukei Yam beach in the Hefer Valley Regional Council, north of Netanya. Around 3:45 A.M., part of the cliff broke off and fell onto the encampment, critically injuring Berlin and slightly injuring another man.

"We received a call about young people buried by a landslide, and arrived within minutes," Lahav Yaakov Sigawi of the Netanya firefighting brigade told Haaretz. "We found a man with a severe head injury from the rocks, who later died, and another injured man."

"We had to climb down to the beach with stretchers," for lack of a road, he explained.

People at the scene began digging through the rubble with their hands, looking for survivors, before the rescue team arrived and helped them, witnesses said.

A Magen David Adom team tried to resuscitate Berlin, but he died before reaching the hospital. The other injured man was carried up to the road and taken to the Laniado hospital in Netanya.

Policemen came to take testimony from members of Berlin's group, to determine whether anyone else was trapped under the rubble.

Superintendent Asaf Zilberstein, commander of the Netanya police investigative unit, said there were no suspicions of negligence at that point.

"I believe there are dozens of places like this around the country where the cliffs could collapse. I don't believe we can or should close the place because there may be a landslide, but people should be careful and not camp directly under a cliff."

There are similar cliffs along many other coastal stretches in Israel, some as much as 40 meters tall. Many are also at risk of collapsing.

Costal cliffs face natural erosion due to wind, waves, temperature changes and rain. Some cliffs are further threatened by nearby construction or mining work.The cliff that collapsed over the weekend has an overhang, because the slopes have eroded more than the top.

There have been about two dozen cliff collapses in the area in recent years, most recently near Givat Olga, where two hikers were injured.