ISRAEL (OBSERVATORY) – Israeli police said they had detained a head of an institute who organized a desert trip for teenagers in which 10 people were killed – on suspicion of being negligent.
Nine girls and a boy were killed when the torrential storms surprised students on the trip, which was set up in an often barren area at the Savit River Valley in southern Israel near the Dead Sea on Thursday. Seven of the 10 were buried on Friday.
Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the institute’s head and teacher were held until Tuesday on suspicion of negligent student deaths.
It was the deadliest in a series of accidents triggered by heavy rains over two days, which usually filled dry streams with water and turned them into deadly torrents.
Floods and torrential rains also killed two Israeli Bedouin after they were swept away on Wednesday in another area.
Medics said a Palestinian teenager had sunk in the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem. Israeli police said a truck driver was still missing after being washed away by a torrent apparently in Israel south of the Dead Sea.
Floods are common in Israel and the occupied West Bank after heavy rains as water flows through narrow canals to the Dead Sea and the Rift Valley in the Negev desert.
The Israeli Prime Minister issued a statement in which he said: “The whole of Israel is deeply traumatized by the terrible tragedy that has shortened the lives of ten great boys who had a promising future.”
“I do not believe that I will really go in this atmosphere … It is not logical that we have to go to such a place where there will be floods,” Israeli media reported. This is a shining fate … we will die … I am serious.”
Another participant in the conversation thought her friend’s comments were exaggerated and assumed the organizers “have some logic and will take you elsewhere.”
A small part of the Israeli-built barrier in East Jerusalem to close Palestinian areas collapsed because of heavy rain, but construction teams on site to close the wrecked part, police said.
On Friday, police sealed off some of the main roads in the Dead Sea area for fear of more severe thunderstorms, and fans of flood and waterfalls warned not to approach these areas.