Despite warnings, vehicles continue to get washed away in floods in the south of the country, putting their passengers at risk.
A military helicopter managed to rescue four passengers of a truck that was caught in the strong current of the Arava stream near Moshav Hatzeva. The two-hour rescue mission was carried out cautiously, for fear that the four may be swept away in the current. The four were evacuated to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba for treatment.
Two teams of volunteers tried to get to those trapped, and get them out of the truck. The command post of the Arava volunteer rescue unit has been set up near the police station in Safir. The rescuers used a high-voltage wire to try to get to the truck, and as a result, some areas lost power.
A vehicle swept away earlier in the Arava stream (Photo: Shalom Shtoklemann, Ein Yahav)
The police are also on high alert together with the authorities and the IDF, as night approaches and the floods continue. "We ask people not to take unnecessary risks," said commander of the Dimona station, Chief Superintendent Noam Shakel. " Don't try to go where it isn't possible to go."
He added, "If possible, don't leave your homes. Getting washed away is fatal. Trucks and other vehicles are swept away easily. Rescue teams are putting their lives at risk when they go out to assist people who have been caught by the floods."
Hiker caught in flood dies
Earlier Monday, 55-year-old Sara Noy Fogel of Orot, who was rescued by a military helicopter after being trapped in a car in the Arava stream, died on the way to the hospital. Alex Hochman of Nir Banim, who was rescued along with Fogel was evacuated to the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba with light injuries.
Hochman's brother Yoram was also in the car with them, and remains missing. The search for Hochman was called off as darkness fell and will be continued Tuesday morning.
The south was hit by heavy rain on Sunday night and Monday morning, which caused the Nitzana bridge to collapse. Roads have been flooded. Schools were shut down in all communities belonging to the Ramat Negev Regional Council. The Arava Highway to Eilat reopened after being closed to traffic in the morning hours.
Helicopter rescue in Arava stream (Photo: Ilana Curiel)
Two truck drivers and another person were rescued by Israel Air Force helicopters after two trucks were washed away in the Faran Stream. A military helicopter rescued two Israel Defense Forces officers trapped in a jeep swept towards the Israel-Egypt border. The officers were rescued unharmed.
Residents are stranded in several communities. A woman from Midreshet Ben-Gurion told Ynet, "I left for work, but was forced to turn back because the road is blocked." A private car was swept away in Besor Stream, and the driver managed to escape safely.
Police car flips over on Arava Highway (Photo: Ron Asulin)
Road 90 was closed to traffic Monday morning on both directions, between the Dead Sea hotels are and Ein Gedi. Road 40 was closed between Ein Avdat and Mitzpe Ramon, in both directions.
Road 222 (Besor Stream) was also closed in both directors, and Road 211 was closed near the Nitzana River. Unusual amounts of water are flowing in all of the Mount Negev streams. The police have asked the public to stay away from the area.
Heavy rain was also reported in the southern city of Eilat. The heavy rain was expected to continue throughout the week, accompanied by thunderstorms, hail and strong winds.
Ahuva Mamos contributed to this report