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Families of students killed in flash flood reach NIS 24 million settlement

Insurance to pay out NIS 18 million and state to cover rest of sum to be divided between families of the 10 teenagers lost during ill-advised school hike near Dead Sea in 2018

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)
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 families of 10 teenagers who were swept to their deaths by a flash flood during a hike organized by a pre-military academy in 2018 will receive close to NIS 24 million ($7.3 million) in compensation, according to Hebrew media reports.

According to the terms of the settlement, insurance companies will pay out NIS 18 million ($5.4 million) and the state will pay NIS 5.8 million ($1.7 million) altogether to the families of the victims killed in the Tzafit River disaster.

The settlement is the result of a civil suit brought by the families in February 2020. It is unrelated to a criminal case in which the former director of the Bnei Zion Academy, Yuval Kahan, and its former counselor, Aviv Bardichev, were charged in 2019, with 10 counts each of negligent homicide.

Prosecutors also charged the former administrators with causing grievous bodily harm for their role in organizing the ill-advised hike to the stream.

The 10 fatalities — nine girls and one boy — were high school students on a field trip organized by the academy they had applied to. They were swept away in a torrential flood while hiking in the river bed. Fifteen others were rescued, and two required medical treatment.

In the indictment, prosecutors said the defendants’ “recklessness” and refusal to take precautions caused the deaths of the 10 high school seniors and the injury of two others.

Family and friends mourn during the funeral of Maayan Barhom at the Har Hamenuchot cemetery in Jerusalem on April 27, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90/File)

According to the charges, the school’s administrators insisted on taking the group on the hike near the Dead Sea, despite receiving numerous warnings about severe weather.

Dorit Barhum, the mother of Ma’ayan Barhum, who was killed in the tragedy, told Ynet following the ruling that the state’s conduct has been shameful.

Itzik Or, the father of Ella Or, also killed during the flash flood, said that while it was “good the settlement was approved by all the government authorities,” there is still a long way to go for justice.

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