Academy head charged over flood deaths likens his legal woes to Netanyahu’s

Academy head charged over flood deaths likens his legal woes to Netanyahu’s

Parents of students who died on hike with pre-military academy berate Yuval Kahan over Facebook post. One writes: ‘If you were a human you would need to kill yourself’

Yuval Kahan. (Courtesy: Bnei Zion pre-military academy)
Yuval Kahan. (Courtesy: Bnei Zion pre-military academy)

The former head of a pre-military academy facing manslaughter charges over the death of 10 students in a flash flood last year likened his own legal situation, and ostensible unfair treatment, to that of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“I heard Bibi’s speech yesterday following the letter of suspicions,” Yuval Kahan wrote Friday on his Facebook page, referring to Netanyahu’s bitter address claiming unfair treatment hours after the attorney general published a document setting out bribery and other allegations against the prime minister.

“In the past this speech would have made less of an impression on me,” wrote Kahan. “Today I felt a little empathy. We’ve become a society of executioners,” he added.

Kahan, the former director of Bnei Zion, was referring to the remarks Netanyahu made Thursday after Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced he intends to indict the premier pending a hearing in three separate corruption cases.

In a televised address, Netanyahu alleged that “the media, the left and legal clerks applied inhuman pressure on the attorney general” to charge him, and intimated that top prosecutors were biased against him.

Prosecutors announced Wednesday they intend to charge Kahan with manslaughter pending a hearing over the death of 10 students last April from flooding during a desert hike near the Dead Sea, as well as former Bnei Zion counselor Aviv Bardichev.

Bardichev is alleged to have changed the route of the trip from the Tze’elim stream to the Tzafit stream despite being warned by a weather forecasting company not to travel in the area due to flooding, while Kahan is said to have known about the route change but chose to trust Bardichev’s judgment.

A composite photo of the 10 victims of a flash flood in southern Israel on April 27, 2018. Top row, left to right: Romi Cohen, Ilan Bar Shalom, Shani Shamir, Adi Raanan, Agam Levy. Bottom row, left to right: Yael Sadan, Maayan Barhum, Tzur Alfi, Gali Balali, Ella Or. (Courtesy/Facebook)

In his Facebook post Friday, Kahan decried what he said were misleading representations by the preliminary charge sheet, news reports and social media posts of his actions in relation to the students deaths.

“People who know me, read the letter of suspicions (which was published in the media before it was given to me) and from it drew firm conclusions without bothering to ask me,” he said.

Though he has “no anger” over prosecutors intention to indict him, Kahan said the preliminary charge sheet includes “partial facts.”

“The reality is very different then what is described in the letter of suspicions. In order for something to be fundamentally different it doesn’t need to be the opposite. It is enough that is different. The ‘small differences’ are what make the difference between good and bad, between the truth and a lie,” he said.

A number of parents of the students killed in the flood issued scathing responses on Facebook to Kahan’s post.

“It is blood-curdling to read the letter of suspicions against you. Monster!” wrote Hadas Alfi, whose son Tzur was the only male killed in the group.

“You’re not worthy of a drop of compassion,” she added. “This day is what a criminal like you deserves.”

Sharon Sadan, whose daughter Yael was among the students who were killed, called Kahan “despicable” and a “fascist.”

“If you were a human you would need to kill yourself,” she wrote. “You have a place reserved in hell.”

Rescue forces near the scene where 10 young Israelis were swept to their deaths in flash floods in the Tzafit riverbed, near the Dead Sea in southern Israel, on April 26, 2018. (Maor Kinsbursky/Flash90)

The 10 fatalities were part of a group of 25 high school students on the hike organized by the academy, and were set to attend its program in the coming year.

Those killed were Shani Shamir from the central city of Shoham; Ella Or from Ma’ale Adumim; Maayan Barhum and Yael Sadan from Jerusalem; Tzur Alfi from the central town of Mazkeret Batya; Agam Levy from the central Israeli town of Herut; Romi Cohen of Maor, near Hadera; Gali Balali from the Tel Aviv suburb of Givatayim; Adi Raanan of the northern Israel moshav of Mikhmoret; and Ilan Bar Shalom of Rishon Lezion.

Netanyahu announced last month that the government will establish a commission of inquiry into the disaster.

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