With the rescue mission thus far unsuccessful, authorities fear for the lives of Itamar Ohana, 19 from Kiryat Shmona, Nachman Itach, 21 from Beitar Illit and Liron Karadi, 17 from Or Akiva.
Itamar’s brother, Hananel, called on the public to pray for his brother’s safety. “Dear friends, my dear brother has drowned in the Kinneret and has not been found so far. Please pray that he be saved, that he return to us,” the plea read.
“The uncertainty is choking and exhausting! Itamar Ohana Ben Rachel,” his brother wrote, providing his full Hebrew name for Jews who wish to answer his call and offer their prayers.
He also urged more members of the public to join the rescue operation and by Thursday afternoon, 250 people had answered his call. “The more volunteers there are to help in the search, the more likely it is to find him. Please, people of Israel, help us. We lack spiritual strength.”
On Wednesday, authorities had already deployed a significant chunk of the rescue tools at its disposal, including divers, helicopters, Kinneret Authority boats and local fishing vessels.
Additionally, IDF Border Police soldiers and more volunteers augmented the search teams by Thursday morning, with the latter entering the waters in fishing boats and kayaks, desperately looking for any signs of life. Cavalry crew also provided succor, focusing on scours of the lake’s eastern banks.
The disaster struck when the inflatable raft carrying Nachman Itach and his girlfriend during the Passover holiday capsized. While the young woman was saved by civilians on a jet ski, Nachman quickly went missing from the water's’ surface.
According to his family, the police were slow to respond to the report of his plight.
The hazards of entering the Kinneret are well known to the public and authorities, demonstrated by the fact that rescue teams were forced, on Wednesday alone, to pull no fewer than 80 people from the lake who had fallen prey to its treacherous currents.
At the same time, two other young men were on an inflatable raft that had apparently exploded. A 17-year-old from the center of the country was rescued by the same jet ski that rescued the young woman, but his friend, Liron, also 17, was missing. In addition, several youths who also floated on an inflatable raft were swept away by the winds.
(Translated and edited by Alexander J. Apfel)