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Israeli woman drowns on vacation in Sinai Peninsula

Incident occurs in Sharm el-Sheikh, a popular tourist destination for Israelis; Foreign Ministry is assisting the family in bringing her body back to Israel for burial

Illustrative -- A resort in the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt, on October 4, 2021 (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)
Illustrative -- A resort in the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt, on October 4, 2021 (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

An Israeli woman died over the weekend, having drowned while on vacation with her husband in the Sinai Peninsula, Hebrew-language media reported Sunday.

Orit Peled, 49, was staying at a resort in the city of Sharm el-Sheikh, located on the southern tip of the Egyptian peninsula — a popular tourist destination for Israelis.

The Foreign Ministry has been notified of the incident and is assisting the family in bringing the woman’s body back to Israel for burial, reports said.

Speaking with Hebrew media, Orit’s husband Itzik said that she had an epileptic seizure while diving, charging that the local lifeguards didn’t have sufficient knowledge of CPR to save her life.

he told Channel 13 news that Orit was an experienced diver who traveled to Sinai two or three times a year to dive.

“She said there was no place like it in the world,” he said, adding that she was an “amazing person.”

He said that while Orit had epilepsy, “she was with a guide at all times who held her hand. She took medications and didn’t have seizures all the time.”

On Friday, the couple went to a beach familiar to Orit, where she wanted to snorkel.

“I was afraid, but she wanted it,” he said. “She took me with her and I dived. After 30 minutes I went onto the wharf and she continued. I suddenly saw something wasn’t okay. I called a lifeguard and told him to go in the water, but they didn’t know how to perform CPR. They had no equipment. There was a tourist who did CPR on her, but it didn’t help.”

In April, Israel’s Arkia airline offered a new direct flight from Tel Aviv to Sharm el-Sheikh, prompting a large uptick in Israeli tourism to the peninsula.

This year, Israel’s National Security Council scaled back its travel warning for parts of the Sinai Peninsula for the first time in more than a decade.

Just before the pandemic, travel to Sinai reached record heights. In October 2019, during the Jewish holiday season when many Israelis have time off from work and school, more than 150,000 Israelis visited Sinai.

And following two years of pandemic marked by lockdowns and canceled flights, Israelis have sought to travel again — both across Israel’s borders and closer to home, in the country’s many nature reserves and national parks.

Israelis cross into Egypt through the Taba Border Crossing, in the southern Israeli city of Eilat, April 17, 2022. (Flash 90)

On Saturday, a 71-year-old man drowned after entering the Jordan River in the area of Kibbutz Kfar HaNassi in northern Israel. In another incident, a 70-year-old woman who was hiking in the Banias spring in the Golan Heights was rescued after slipping and falling into the water.

Three other Israelis were pulled out of the water after nearly drowning throughout the day.

On Friday, 15-year-old Az a-Din Awad from the town of Tamra in northern Israel was pronounced dead after drowning in the Jordan River a day earlier.

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