Israel Life Saving Federation (ILSF) is a nonprofit, community-based volunteer organization based on the world's leading water-safety model - Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA). Our goal is to prevent drownings across Israel through education and practical courses catered to all age groups from as young as 7 years old.
The surf-rescue model seeks to teach volunteers and passersby to respond and offer first aid in the case of ocean drowning incidents. Courses include water awareness, ocean lifesaving and first aid, combined with fitness and competitions. Participants learn and practice skills in the sand and water with equipment including specialized floats and surfboards, and compete in running, swimming and surfing.
While new in Israel, surf lifesaving is a broad, well-established social movement that has saved hundreds of thousands of lives around the world. Established in Australia in 1907, the movement has 180,000 volunteers in Australia alone, and is also popular in English-speaking countries including New Zealand, Ireland, South Africa and the United Kingdom. Members serve as volunteer lifeguards on their local beaches and participate in competitive surf sports.
ISLF, Israel's local surf lifesaving federation, was founded in 2019 by Paul Hakim, a Silver Medallion surf lifesaver and beach patrol manager from Sydney, his brother Danny Hakim, and Lisa Segelov, all originally from Australia. In 2021, volunteers saved or assisted more than 70 people in the water, both while volunteering at official swimming events and as passersby on Israel’s beaches.
The organization's operations during 2021 included leading beachside courses for children, teens and adults, and volunteering on the water safety team for major sporting events including Israel's first Ironman competition in Tiberias and the Olympic marathon swimming qualifier in Eilat. ISLF is also active in lobbying the Knesset for effective water safety education.
In July 2022, ISLF hosted the first-ever surf-lifesaving event at the Maccabiah games. Other activities in 2022 have included courses for all ages on beaches around the country, including in Tel Aviv, Herzliya, Ashkelon, Dor and Jisr al-Zarqa.
ISLF President Paul Hakim notes that many beach drownings occur in broad daylight, after the lifeguards have left for the day. The beaches are often still full of people, and if only one person were to know how to respond, lives could be saved.
“Coming from Australia, surf lifesaving is a normal thing, and coming to Israel it’s so lacking. This is a huge vacuum in Israel that we have the potential to fill,” explains Hakim, referring to the large number of drownings at Israel’s beaches every summer. “Israel is known as the start-up nation when it comes to technology, and Australia is known as the best nation for water safety and prevention. We’re bringing Australian expertise to Israel.”
Israel Life Saving Federation (ILSF) is a member of the European Life Saving Federation and is an official associate member of the International Life Saving Federation. It is a registered nonprofit in Israel.