(April 27, 2018 / JNS) Israeli police arrested the principal and an instructor at the Bnei Zion pre-military academy for suspected negligent homicide in connection to the tragic deaths of 10 teenagers in a flash flood on Thursday.
According to police, the two, identified as principal Yuval Cohen and instructor Aviv Bredichev, were questioned early on Friday for their failure to heed flash-flood warnings in the Dead Sea region. Police said a third suspect was also questioned but later released.
Both Cohen and Bredichev were brought to Be’er Sheva Magistrates’ Court on Friday, where police were granted a five-day extension to their arrest.
Ten students were killed during a field trip on Thursday during flash floods that pummeled Israel. A group of 25 students, ages 17 and 18, who were accepted to the Bnei Tzion pre-military academy in Tel Aviv for the coming year, were hiking in the Judean Desert along the Nahal Tzafit riverbed trail that empties into the Dead Sea.
Police said that both suspects knew about the weather warnings ahead of the trip, but nevertheless decided to proceed with the hike, despite even some students voicing their concerns of the potential for fatal consequences.
“I cannot believe I’m going on a trip in such weather,” one of the 10 students who died said in a WhatsApp group chat to friends before the hike, Israel’s Hadashot TV news reported. “It doesn’t make sense for us to go to a place where everything is flooding. It’s tempting fate—we’re going to die, I’m serious.”
However, in a WhatsApp message ahead of the trip, the pre-military academy downplayed the threat, saying that the hike would “fun and wet and an experience.” They also told the students to bring “a rain coat,” “a rain cover for your bags” and “a change of dry clothes in case you need [it].”
“Don’t worry,” the message said. “We are well-prepared for the hike and the academy has checked with the relevant authorities. It will be fun and wet and an experience!”