Lifeguard tower (illustrative)
Lifeguard tower (illustrative)Israel news photo: Flash 90

The number of drowning deaths increased in 2013 after a steady decrease from 2010 to 2012, the Ministry of the Interior reports.

A total of 34 people died of drowning at Israel’s beaches over the swimming season. Roughly 90% of drowning deaths occurred at beaches with no lifeguard on duty, whether at beaches where swimming is not authorized, or at authorized beaches but after authorized swimming hours had ended.

Ninety-five percent of those who died of drowning were men, and 50% were over the age of 45. Nine percent were children and teenagers.

Twenty percent of the drowning fatalities were tourists or foreign workers, while 80% were Israeli citizens. Seventeen percent were Israeli Arabs.

From 2000 to 2009, roughly 45 people died of drowning each year, but in 2010 a decrease began. Thirty-eight fatal drownings took place in 2010, 33 in 2011, and 26 in 2012.

Interior Ministry officials said two factors in particular contributed to the higher death rate in 2013: particularly high, dangerous waves, and a short jellyfish season, which meant that jellyfish kept bathers out of the water for a shorter than average period of time.

The 2013 swim season officially came to a close last week. However, 33 beaches will continue to provide lifeguards until the end of October, and 29 beaches will remain open for the duration of the winter.