An eight-year-old girl who wandered alone into the Judean desert on Friday morning was found alive and well on Saturday afternoon after over 24 hours of tense searching by rescue teams, police and locals.
The girl had wandered out of her home in a Bedouin village in the Mount Holed area southeast of Hebron in the southern West Bank. She had last been seen herding the family’s sheep with her older sister when she went missing.
Authorities were contacted by the concerned family, and search and rescue teams from the Etzion Bloc, the Dead Sea area and Arad were deployed to the area throughout Friday and Saturday. Several family members who are trained trackers familiar with the terrain also took part in the search.
She was found outside Kfar Hanokdim, in the desert northeast of Arad. The region is a parched, rugged, unforgiving desert environment crisscrossed by steep valleys, a fact that lent some urgency to the search. By the time she was found, she had walked over 20 kilometers through the desert without water or shade.
Even as the search was underway, the police launched an investigation into the circumstances of the girl’s disappearance, which they said was initially unclear. It was unclear Saturday if the police planned to continue the investigation once the girl was found.
Rescue teams were reportedly preparing to deploy canine units and a helicopter to aid in the search shortly before the girl was found.