Nahal Tzafit disaster: Three forbidden questions

Two-and-a-half months after disaster, permissible and proper to ask a few questions they haven't dared ask until now. Analysis and opinion.

Gil Ronen,

Three forbidden questions
Three forbidden questions
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Nine girls and one boy were killed in the flood disaster in Nahal Tsafit on April 26 this year.

The disaster was terrible. Such young and beautiful life was taken with sudden cruelty. Ten families who have to live with terrible pain, forever. There's no greater sorrow than that.

This article could finish here. But our society isn't inclined to accept such exceptional disasters as mere celestial decrees. We tend to try to learn lessons, if only to prevent similar disasters. We seek the blame, in the human beings and in the "concepts". The police and State Prosecutor's Office came into the picture and charged the trip organizers. There's also a demand for a commission of inquiry into the disaster.

The reluctance to promote any agenda, while discussing a subject so personal and painful, is clear. But once we accept that it's right to draw lessons from disasters through public debate, it's impossible to limit this discussion to lessons that were approved in advance by one figure or another. Then the whole process isn't a real clarification, but a waste of time.

Thus we approach the subject itself.

Soon after the disaster it was impossible to miss that nine of the ten victims were girls.

The question why nine of the victims were girls was "forbidden", because we were taught by the emissaries of political correctness that we shouldn't ask such questions. Nevertheless, it somehow came up in an interview conducted by Reno Tzror the day after the disaster with the director of the southern district of MDA, Yehuda Shoshan, who was among the rescuers.

"The first ones who managed to extricate themselves were the four guys who were at the front of the team; they quickly climbed the banks, which is the correct thing to do," Shoshan said. "Those who had the physical strength just went up the sides, so most of them were the men. The girls apparently didn't succeed; they had heavy knapsacks on them, each carried a backpack. It appears they were physically unable to escape up the banks."

This is a simple statement. The girls carried very heavy knapsacks and didn't have enough physical strength to extricate themselves.

In the days after the disaster it became clear that the only male who had perished, Tzur Alfi, was killed because he was bravely struggling to save others although he could have saved himself.

That is to say, the course of the disaster supports the hypothesis that given a situation in which physical strength determines whether or not one will die, males have an advantage over females. This is a very simple statement and appears to have many implications, but as stated, we're prohibited from saying it at all under the current dictatorship of thought. Even now, I don't know if the editor's hand will permit publication of this article.

Mistaken version and rehash

On Channel 2, a story about a visit by survivors and their families to Nahal Tzafit was broadcast about a week ago. The article sharpened - for me, at least - the sense that shortly after the disaster, we didn't get a real, full picture of it. In some of the reports in those days it was claimed the girls were killed because, to their bad luck, they were located "in the center of the stream".

"The group stopped at the center of the wadi and divided into three groups: one group near the right bank of the wadi, another group was near the left bank, and one group sat in the middle of the channel. A particularly torrential surge of water surprised the hikers and hit mainly the group in the center. A large part of the people on both sides managed to get out."

This is a completely inaccurate picture, and it's not at all clear where it even came from. As shown in the filmed report from last week, the stream was very narrow in all points where the youths walked; there was no "center" or "right" or "left", and no one sat. The thought that someone fabricated this version to promote an agenda is unbearable. I'd be happy to say it's also unlikely, but unfortunately we live in a world where reality is stranger than fiction.

News 2's rehash article presents a picture quite similar to that described by rescuer Yehuda Shoshan. Those who survived were the ones who managed to climb up the sides quickly. It seems that in this group, most were boys. We note that we don't have a complete list of hiker's names, and it's quite possible that there were more girls than boys on the trip in the first place. We only know that it was a group of 25 boys and girls, and two other escorts and a medic. In the article, the names of eight boys/men (Zur, Achiya, Adiel, Yahav, Noam, Raz, Yehonatan, and Snir) were mentioned, excluding the paramedic, so that the boys/men comprised at least one-third of the group.

"Flood, everyone up!"

One of the survivors, Adiel Hasid, said: "Suddenly we started to hear a really loud noise of stones, everyone went into a kind of shock, they didn't move, we looked at each other, and then I remembered Steve (the medic) shouting, 'Flood, everyone up!' The girls started screaming, I jumped to the next step. When I was on the next step I turned and that was the first time I saw the wave with all the rocks sweeping all the girls."

The distance between him and the girls was "nothing" said Hasid. "A meter or two."

Conclusion: At least some of the girls screamed in horror - and didn't climb up the banks of the stream as they should have done to save themselves - either because they were terrified and froze in place or because of the heavy equipment they carried. Perhaps for the two reasons together, or for some other reason we don't know.

And these are the questions I ask, which won't be asked in any commission of inquiry:

First question: Is it possible to draw a general conclusion from the disaster about how girls function in physical stress situations of mortal danger, as opposed to the functioning of young men? Do the physical differences between boys and girls make it easier for boys to extricate themselves from such situations, relative to girls? Maybe not. Maybe. The question must be asked.

The second question is whether the fact that the girls bore very heavy loads, as Yehuda Shoshan of MDA says, is related to the Mechina's ideology, which according to the media has faithfully advocated preparing girls for combat service?

Third: Is ignoring the unalterable power of nature, with regard to the differences between boys and girls - if that is indeed part of the Mechina ideology - related to what appears to be tempting fate, as expressed in preparing the trip on the day when it was known there was a danger of flooding? Is it because of so much ideology that someone lost touch with reality?

These are questions that I believe are permissible, and even important, to ask. As stated, this isn't to prove any agenda - if only because I don't really know the answers, and I'm open to any position. But asking is allowed, and necessary. I'd be very sorry if these questions hurt any of the families of the victims. Conducting a thorough investigation to expose the truth and draw lessons isn't supposed to harm the relatives of the young and pure victims who were lost on that terrible day. On the contrary.

The writer is father of two and head of the Family Movement.

Translated by Mordechai Sones


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