President Rivlin with Nachal Tzafit disaster parents
President Rivlin with Nachal Tzafit disaster parents Mark Neiman (GPO)

President Reuven and First Lady Nechama Rivlin today met the parents of the ten victims who lost their lives during a hike in Nachal Tzafit in the south of the country on Iyar 11, 5778 (April 26, 2018).

The President said to the families, “Your wonderful children were the best of our young people. All of them – so talented, so rare, so loved. So alive. Full of promise, full of expectation. There are no words of consolation for the loss of a child in such an unnecessary disaster. We haven't moved on. Your loss touched us all. We must ensure that a tragedy like this never happens again. This must never happen again,” he added.

Shai Levy, father of Agam, opened the meeting and said, “We request an independent inquiry that will prevent the next tragedy. Our children won’t come back but we still have the strength to fight and stop the next disaster. There were incidents in the past but no-one heard about them because they weren't of the scale of this tragedy, but we want to make sure that there's clarity regarding supervision and responsibility. We'll forever live with the question of why we didn’t check more. We need to be sure that this is what guides those who are responsible – that they ask questions, that they check more.” Another parent said, “Our anger is from the lack of supervision. There's a culture of ‘everyone does what they think is right’ and of pushing the boundaries.”

President Rivlin with Nachal Tzafit disaster parents
Mark Neiman (GPO)

During the discussion, another parent said, “Something very positive [the pre-military academies] has been created, but it is a wildflower without supervision. The educational model that's developed is very extreme and we ask that someone bring order to the jungle. If what comes out of all of this is supervision of hikes, we won’t have achieved anything,” he added. “Today, it’s clear that if there isn’t a change in supervision and legislation about the pre-army academies, the next tragedy is only a matter of time. Our children won’t come back, but it’s important for the next ones.”

The President listened to the parents’ comments and said, “we must fight the culture of ‘trust me’. The pre-army academies must be supervised, and the safety regulations must be clearer, better and carried out to the letter.” At the end of the meeting, the President promised he would talk about what he had heard from the parents with the Education and Defense Ministers and said “from your homes emerged leaders. The reason your children chose the pre-army academy was first and foremost because of the homes they grew up in, and we appreciate that so much. This terrible tragedy brought you together. Now you are family. I also want you to see us – Nechama and me – as part of your family.”

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