Israel is starting this new week with a broken heart.
Workplaces conversations and all the leading headlines are focused on a single, tragic event – the deaths of 10 Israeli teenagers last Thursday when they were swept away in a flash flood near the southern end of the Dead Sea.
Across the country memorial services are being held, and all anyone can talk about was how to punish those responsible and to avoid such crushing heartache in the future.
The teens were all enrolled in a prestigious post-high school, pre-military academy that prepares young Israelis for army service and responsible citizenship. Many of the students and several of their counselors wondered at the wisdom of going ahead with the outing despite heavy rains that inevitably result in flash floods.
But it would seem that a macho attitude of accomplishing the “mission” at all costs won out, and the group of 23 teens was needlessly placed in mortal danger.
The heads of this particular pre-military academy (known in Hebrew as a mechina) have been arrested and are facing serious charges of criminal negligence.
But, as one commentator on Army Radio noted Sunday morning, the tragedy has also caused many Israelis to rethink this attitude of invincibility that such programs seek to instill in young Israelis prior to their military service.
PHOTO: People gather at Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square to light candles as they take part in a memorial ceremony for the 10 Israeli teens who lost their lives in a flash flood. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)