Twenty-five swimmers from around the world crossed the Dead Sea from Jordan to Israel today to raise awareness about the deterioration of the natural wonder.
For the first swim of its kind in the salty lake, the swimmers wore full face snorkelling masks to protect themselves from the water, which can be fatal if ingested. They were also accompanied by a medical team to help them in case of emergency.
The swimmers hailed from Denmark, Norway, New Zealand, England, Israel, South Africa and the Palestinian Territories and ranged in age from 30 to 61, the oldest a Palestinian man.
In recent years the Dead Sea has lost a third of its surface area. The Jordan River’s waters are diverted from the sea, causing further degradation, according to EcoPeace Middle East, the Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian group sponsoring the swim.
EcoPeace coordinated with the Israeli and Jordanian military to allow the swim to take place. It began at 7:00 AM and ended at 2:00 PM.
“The Jordan River has always been the life blood of the Dead Sea and cooperation, as witnessed here by the swimmers, is urgently needed to revitalize the Jordan River and help stabilize the Dead Sea,” said Gidon Bromberg, Israeli director of EcoPeace.
Naomi Zeveloff is the Middle East correspondent of the Forward, primarily covering Israel and the Palestinian Territories.