Desert in Israel

10 Israeli Teens Die on a Hiking Trip

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

In Jerusalem, it is common for teenagers to take a year off between high school and fulfilling their military requirements. Leading up to the gap year, the teens work towards gaining acceptance to an educational academy. They spend their gap year learning about a variety of subjects.

Academy Instructors Took a Chance With the Lives of Young Adults

According to the Washington Post, a group of 25 teenagers was taken out for a hiking trip by three academy leaders. The trip was to a dry, desert region south of the Dead Sea. Usually, it does not rain in this area, but when it does rain, the slightest bit can cause dangerous flash floods. The forecast for the day of the hike was not great. Meteorologists were calling for it to rain that day. The academy leaders were aware that the area was prone to flooding. The academy leaders should have canceled the trip, but they proceeded anyway.

The teenagers’ expectations for the hike were not high. Before the hike, one of the girls was discussing her feelings with a friend via WhatsApp. She was stating that she did not want to go on the hike because the weather forecast was poor. She then wrote to her friend, “We could end up dying there.” Little did she know, she was predicting the tragic event that would ensue.

As the bad weather rolled in, the floods became more and more powerful. Soldiers were being sent out on rescue missions to save the hikers and other people that had been reported missing. The story grew as the natural disaster did. Local news stations were dropping their scheduled coverage to cover the floods live.

The Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, spoke about the events. He called the loss of lives a “disaster”. He went on to add “Israel was grieving over the promising young lives that were cut off by this tragedy.”

The trip came, and so did the floods, sweeping away 10 of the 25 teenagers as it rolled through the desert. The trip leaders were able to remain safe. When they returned home, the three leaders were arrested and are awaiting trial for negligence charges.

What’s Yosi’s Take?

The victims absolutely have a case against the educational academy. The youth leaders/educational academy owed a duty of care to the hikers. That duty was breached when the academy leaders ignored warnings from the local meteorological service about the possibility of floods in the area. A responsible academy would have heeded the advice of the meteorological service and not taken the hikers on this hike which obviously exposed them to great dangers.

If I was advising the educational academy, I would definitely tell them to settle outside of court and not take this case to trial. It really is an open-and-shut case. There isn’t anything I can think of that the academy can argue in defense of their actions. These 18-year-olds trusted their lives with the academy. The hikers were not experts in meteorology and rightfully deferred questions about the safety of the hike to the academy which was negligent in their decision-making. The academy should have never taken the victims on this hike in light of the warnings from the meteorological service.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.