Dead Sea Keeps Missing Boy Alive

A massive 3-hour manhunt ended in midnight joy after a missing child was found floating in the Dead Sea - alive.

Hana Levi Julian and Hillel Fendel ,

The Dead Sea.
The Dead Sea.
Israel Geological Survey

A massive manhunt and rescue operation ended in joy around midnight between Thursday and Friday, after a missing child was found alive, floating in the Dead Sea. The high salt and mineral content of the water, while extremely dangerous to ingest, kept the child afloat.

Eight-year-old Schneur Zalman Friedman disappeared within minutes on Thursday after he entered the water at 5:00 p.m. with his father and brother. It is known that high winds often blow through the Dead Sea area towards evening, cooling off the heat of the day, but in this case, they caused the tide to carry him away. The family, residents of the Mea Shearim neighborhood in Jerusalem, immediately raised the alarm when they could not find him.

Helicopters and small planes were brought in to search from the air as police, IDF soldiers, Hatzoloh Israel and Zaka rescue volunteers combed the beach area on foot.

The Jordanian government was notified in order to avoid misunderstandings about the purpose of the lights and flares used to track down the youngster. The opposite shore of the Dead Sea belongs to Jordan.

The IDF officially called off the search at 10:00 p.m., some reports said, but Hatzoloh workers insisted on continuing their efforts. Their persistence paid off before midnight.  The boy was finally spotted by rescue workers at 11:45 p.m., floating in the water at the Ein Gedi beach, some three kilometers south of where he entered the water.  Rescue workers said the boy was in good condition, though somewhat exhausted, when they pulled him from the water.  He later said he knew he had to keep his head above water, though he fell asleep briefly at one point.

The rescue workers, both religious and not, broke out into spontaneous dance upon finding the boy.  The words "miracle from Heaven" were a constant refrain.  The boy's family thanked the many volunteers and security personnel who took part in the search.