Itamar Ohana, 19 from Kiryat Shmona, Nachman Itach, 21 from Beitar Illit and Liron Karadi, 17 from Or Akiva, vanished in Israel’s northern water jewel last Wednesday, after they entered the lake on inflatable rafts and were then swept away by the winds.
Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh, who visited the area of the search on Sunday morning, stated that it was highly unlikely that the three missing individuals were alive. “The working assumption is that the missing individuals are likely not alive,” he said.
Once again, authorities deployed the full might of the various rescue teams at their disposal, including the Israel Border Police, the IDF, the Fire Services, ZAKA diving units, Golan Heights rescue crews and other search and rescue teams, frantically searching for the three missing people.
Alsheikh received a briefing on the development of the ongoing rescue efforts from the Commander of the Northern District Alon Asur during a visit to the nearby Ein Gev Kibbutz.
On Saturday, Asur met with family members of the missing three, who are waiting in the area, desperately hoping and praying that their loved ones are found and brought back to safety.
Despite the gloomy evaluations, Alsheikh said that the search would continue with undiminished vigor, “both below water and above water.”
He went on to say that “The sonar from the navy, which is now placed there, will constitute a significant enhancing of the scouring capabilities in the area and we hope that the naval patrols and divers, with the assistance of the navy, will locate the missing people.”
Nevertheless, Alsheikh emphasized that the rescue mission could continue for a number of weeks, given the comparatively vast stretch of the Kinneret.
“From past experience, under-water searches in a large area can take weeks. That’s why with all the difficulties for the family in this tragedy, we need to give the combined forces of sea patrol the required time. We will continue to make every effort in order to locate the missing people and bring them back to their families,” he promised.
Last week, 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.
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.”
(Translated and edited by Alexander J. Apfel)