Academy head resigns under cloud of suspicion over flood disaster
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Academy head resigns under cloud of suspicion over flood disaster

Yuval Kahan says he is ‘torn and broken’ in wake of desert hike in which 10 high school students were killed

Friends and family mourn near the fresh grave of Ella Or during her funeral in Mishor Adumim on April 27, 2018. Or was one of 10 Israeli teens killed in a flash flood on April 26, 2018 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Friends and family mourn near the fresh grave of Ella Or during her funeral in Mishor Adumim on April 27, 2018. Or was one of 10 Israeli teens killed in a flash flood on April 26, 2018 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The head of a pre-army academy that planned a desert hike last week in which 10 teenagers were swept to their deaths in a flash flood announced on Wednesday that he is resigning from his position.

“Last Thursday, a terrible and inconceivable disaster occurred in the pre-military academy of Bnei Zion, which I head,” Yuval Kahan of the Bnei Zion academy said in a statement.

“During an excursion to teach the values ​​of friendship and love of the country, the young women Yael Sadan, Adi Raanan, Agam Levy, Ilan Bar Shalom, Ella Or, Gali Balali, Maayan Barhum, Romi Cohen, Shani Shamir and the young man Tzur Alfi were killed.”

Kahan said he has been “torn and broken” since the nine girls and one boy were killed Thursday when the group was hit by flash floods in the Tzafit riverbed in the southern Dead Sea area.

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)

“I will never be able to find words that can express the sorrow I feel. The role of the head of the preparatory program is first and foremost an educational one that requires the full trust of the trainees, their families and all those who are involved in the program,” wrote Kahan.

“I know that in the shadow of this terrible tragedy, this trust, which is the basis for the ability to lead and educate, cannot exist, so I decided to submit my resignation.”

Kahan concluded by offering his condolences to the bereaved families.

Yuval Kahan. (Courtesy Bnei David pre-military academy)

“I am unable to comfort the families that lost the most precious thing of all, and I share their sorrow.”

On Monday, Kahan and academy instructor Aviv Bardichev were released to house arrest for five days, following their arrest on Friday on suspicion of causing death by negligence for ignoring flash flood warnings.

The release came a day after the Bnei Zion academy’s Tel Aviv offices were raided by police, who seized documents and confiscated computers after suspicions arose that the heads of the institution were trying to obstruct the investigation into the deadly hike.

Military helicopters search for missing teens swept away in the flooding of the Tzafit River, a riverbed near the Dead Sea in southern Israel, on April 26, 2018. (Maor Kinsbursky/Flash90)

Police are investigating whether the trip’s organizers lied to participants about the safety of the desert trail they planned to take, as well as about their coordination, or lack thereof, with relevant authorities.

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

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