Recently three Bedouin brothers from the Sariye family named Nahed, aged 26, Sulimen, aged 19, and Atef, aged 16 tragically drowned while swimming at a beach in Ashkelon, Israel. The bodies were discovered after four days of Israeli rescue efforts to save them involving the Israeli Navy and Police utilizing jet skis, helicopters and divers. All three of the brothers were buried together. As one relative stated, “They went to have fun on the beach with their family and now we are burying them. It is impossible to believe, it is just a tragedy.” Hassan Sariye, the father of the boys, proclaimed, “I was hoping that my boys would be found alive and well. Unfortunately, it all ended in a great tragedy. I had wonderful boys. They weren’t just brothers, they were friends. On the day of the incident my eldest told me he wanted to take the family to the beach for a change of scenery. They left happy and came back dead.”

Yet, one Israeli prevented this occurrence from being an even greater tragedy than it already was by rescuing two other brothers from the Sariye family who were also swept away by the sea. Ya’akov Bruchim, aged 22, was walking home from prayers when he saw helicopters at the Ashkelon beach and he found the scene to be unusual, out of the ordinary. He asserted, “I asked myself, what was a helicopter doing at the beach? Suddenly, I heard shouting and didn’t understand why.” Then, he saw 22-year-old Salaam and 19-year-old Salman drowning. At that point, he jumped into the water and managed to save the two of them.

Hassan Sariye was very grateful for Ya’akov efforts and claimed that he now views him to be like one of his sons. “G-d took away three sons but gave us another. He [Yaakov] is one of those people who doesn’t care about race, gender, or origin. He is a beautiful face of Israel.” Yet, Ya’akov wasn’t satisfied with the results. He staid with the Sariye family for the four days of search and rescue until the bodies could be found. According to Hassan Sariye, “He’s here all the time. My home is open to him and his family 24 hours.” Ya’akov responded that he “didn’t do any thing, but if I could have done more, I would have.”

The entire Israeli nation was very much touched by the tragedy that befell the Sariye family. “This is a tragedy for the nation of Israel,” said Interior Minister of Internal Security Yizhak Aharonovitch. “To lose three sons, is too much.” Similarly, Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu proclaimed, “I would like you to know about the pain that I feel for the families that lost loved ones in traffic accidents and for the Saraya family, which lost three of its sons in a tragedy off the coast of Ashkelon.” MK Taleb Abu Arar similarly declared, “Though the father lost three of his sons, he is still strong. We can learn something from him about dealing with disaster.”

By Rachel Avraham