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8-year-old boy killed, 8 others injured in rockslide at Ein Gedi Park near Dead Sea

Park authorities say all injured hikers have been evacuated, site remains closed

Police and Rescue forces near the scene where one person died and a few were injured in a rockslide in Ein Gedi nature reserve, near the Dead Sea, on Aug. 24, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90

Edited: 19:45 after authorities clarified the age and name of the boy who died.

Magen David Adom (MDA) emergency responders announced that an eight-year-old boy who was evacuated from a rockslide at Ein Gedi Park with severe injuries has died.

The boy was one of several hikers injured in the sudden rockslide early Thursday morning at the Nahal David trail at the park, where two families became trapped after rock debris fell on the path.

According to authorities, eight other hikers are being treated for light-to-moderate injuries.

The eight-year-old was removed from the rockslide unconscious with severe wounds, and MDA emergency responders were unable to resuscitate him.

The boy was identified as Yehuda Levi from the settlement of Hemdat in Samaria.

Five of the injured were evacuated by Air Force helicopters to Soroka Hospital in Beersheva and Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem. Another three injured were evacuated by MDA helicopter to Sheba Hospital in Tel Hashomer.

MDA paramedics said the site “is a complex area” due to the difficult terrain. MDA and IDF paramedics had to enter on foot to treat and evacuate the injured.

Eight-year-old Lavi Bar David, who lives near the ALL ISRAEL NEWS offices, sustained minor injuries in the rockslide.

"We reached the waterfall and suddenly stones fell on us," Lavi said. "I got hit in the head by a rock and my sisters were hurt, too."

Lavi described how he helped his younger sister by using his shirt as a bandage.

"I recognize when you have to stop the blood. We didn't have anything else, so that's what I did."

Lavi said there were two loud booms as the rocks fell.

His father, Yonatan Bar David, said, "We saw enormously large rocks falling down."

"I'm sorry I couldn't grab them. It was a split second."

"I took my youngest daughter, who had a head and leg injury and ran with her to the entrance to the nature reserve, together with the children. I admit I was in shock," he said.

"We are people of faith," Yonatan said. "Thank God he preserved us."

The Nature and Parks Authority has closed the Nahal David park to assess possible further risk. In addition, police temporarily closed the road near the park to assist in the rescue efforts.

The Ein Gedi Nature Reserve is one of Israel’s most popular parks, with over 580,000 visitors it last year. The park is a favorite summer vacation visit for many Israeli families and tour groups due to the waterfalls, pools, and local wildlife such as ibex, rock badgers and birds.

Nahal David (Hebrew for David's stream) is named for King David, and is the site where David hid from King Saul, as recorded in 1 Samuel 24:1 - When Saul returned from following the Philistines, he was told, “Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi.”

It was in one of the caves in the area, that David was hiding when Saul came to relieve himself. Despite being encouraged by his men to kill Saul, David chose to spare the king's life.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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