Three Family Members Drown in Reservoir

Three members of one family from the Negev town of Hura drowned on Friday in the Yatir reservoir in the northern Negev.

On Friday, the Arad search and rescue unit pulled the bodies of brothers Abed Najed, 17, and Mahmoud Najed, 18, from the reservoir, located in the Yatir Forest near the community of Meitar. Yesterday morning, the body of their cousin who jumped into the water to save the brothers, Ra'ad Shaher, 23, a married father, was also found. The bodies of the two brothers were taken by helicopter to Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva, and Shaher's body was taken by ambulance to Soroka.

The three men, from the Bedouin town of Hura near Be'er Sheva, were declared missing on Friday after they went into the reservoir, and a friend who was with them called the security forces for help.

"One of them went into the water and began to drown; his brother went in after him to try to help him, and then the cousin went in after both of them," the friend said.

The search for the three continued all Friday afternoon and into the evening. Pumps operate in the reservoir, and signs are posted warning people not to enter the water. An initial investigation shows that after the young men entered the water, they were probably pulled to the bottom of the reservoir by the pumps.

The three apparently slipped on the plastic sheeting lining the reservoir when they entered it. "When the plastic is wet, and especially when scum accumulates under the water, a person can't climb out on his own. Even our people and the police divers who went in couldn't come out without ropes," a spokesman for the Arad rescue unit said.