Three Israeli surfers, who were vacationing in Hawaii, bravely rescued eight drowning Hawaiian children on one of the beaches near Honolulu. These three Israeli heroes were identified as Tzvika Elias, Yair Naftali and Gabi Liptz, who were all cheered on by the children’s desperate parents that were very much concerned about their children’s safety when they saw them approaching dangerous waves. Evidently, rescuing these children was not an easy task and it took forty minutes to complete this mission, yet these three Israeli surfers did not give up until all of the children had reached safety.

As Tzvika Elias reported, “We had gone to a remote beach half an hour from Honolulu. The waves were about four feet high at the time we arrived at the beach. As the minutes passed the waves began to grow and become even higher.” Elias and his friends then witnessed a group of Hawaiian children struggling. He said, “As we approached, we saw that the kids were not playing in the water but were swept out to sea by the huge waves that hit them. The parents were watching helplessly from shore how their kids were drowning. Then, we decided to jump into action, run into the water and tried to get as much children as possible out from the water.”

Elias continued, “Yair and I, who were at that point together in the water, tried with all our might to reach the group to try to get them away from the strong waves. Every time we managed to grab hold of one child, he was immediately swept away again. At a certain point, Gabi, who had already left the water, joined our attempts and managed to catch hold of some of the kids and get them safely to shore.”

After about an hour, rescue workers arrived at the scene and assisted the Israelis in continuing to rescue all of the children. However, the Israelis had already done the brunt of the work by the time that the American rescue workers came. One of the children that the Israelis rescued was in critical condition and was rushed to a local hospital. Yet according to one emergency rescue worker, “Without the Israeli surfers it is likely that the injuries would have been far worse. They probably would have been dead.”

Evidently, drowning is a serious problem within the State of Hawaii. While the shark attacks may make the headlines, drowning actually causes more deaths in Hawaii. Most of the victims are adults who thought they were good swimmers. Hawaii’s Department of Health has reported that from 1999 till 2003, 9.7 people drowned for every 100,000 people, which is double the national American rate of death by drowning of 4.7 deaths to every 100,000 residents. This implies that with the sole exception of Alaska, where many people drown in fishing boat accidents, more people die by drowning in the State of Hawaii than in any other American state. Thus, given these statistics, the chances of these eight children being able to survive such large waves without significant assistance is very slim.

By Rachel Avraham