Teen Drowns During Kinneret Night Swim

A 15-year-old from Beit Shemesh drowned in Lake Kinneret while swimming with friends early yesterday morning, police said.

This is the second drowing there this summer.

Efraim Nachman Gabai studied at a yeshiva in Safed, and was at a Tiberias beach with another student and two female friends.

One told Haaretz she was near Gabai when he drowned.

"We came last night from Safed to Tiberias and entered the water. We decided to go in a little deeper. Suddenly Efraim shouted out to me - I thought he was joking, because his arms and legs were above the water. I grabbed his leg, but he went under. It all happened in a few seconds, but only after 15 minutes did I realize he had drowned. The search for him began a lot later."

Gabai's classmate said he "had a heart of gold. Always loved to help and never hurt anyone. We just wanted to have a bit of fun at the lake, who would have thought it would end like this?"

Members of the northern district police's volunteer divers unit recovered Gabai's body yesterday morning. He was buried in Beit Shemesh yesterday afternoon.

Asher Vaknin, a Tiberias resident who works at a nearby pub, said Gabai was swimming within the area marked as safe for swimming, along with quite a few other people.

"There were quite a few people swimming. Suddenly he shouted 'help!' and went under. I guess the undercurrent pulled him under."

Vaknin said the beach was only recently opened, and that signs there say swimming is only allowed between 9 A.M. and 5 P.M., when a lifeguard is on duty. However, many teenagers ignore that warning.

Moria Hatzav, a volunteer police diver, said swimming in the dark is dangerous because it is hard for swimmers to tell how far they are from the shore.