At the end of a long week characterized by a chain of car-versus-pedestrian collisions, police response to dangerous driving topped the agenda at the weekly meeting between Israel Police Commissioner Insp.-Gen. Moshe Karadi and his boss, Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter.
Earlier this week, Karadi accepted the recommendations of a committee probing the police response to a specific deadly crash, near Tiberias, which included that several police officers face disciplinary hearings for "behavior that does not conform to police guidelines."
Karadi presented the committee's findings to Dichter on Thursday, and the minister described them as "an earthquake" and said that, "if all of the elements had acted correctly, it is possible that this incident would have ended differently."
Karadi formed an investigative team a week ago Sunday to look into allegations of police negligence in preventing the crash, which killed five people near Poriya, west of Tiberias, three days earlier. The accident occurred when the driver of a Fiat Uno swerved into the opposite lane, possibly to pass a second car. When the driver noticed a vehicle approaching, he apparently attempted a hard turn back into his lane, but lost control of the car, which spun, rammed into the second car and flipped over onto its roof.
All five passengers in the car - residents of the Galilee city of Karmiel - were killed immediately. Five members of a family traveling in the car that was hit were all hospitalized at nearby Poriya Hospital.
Shortly after hearing of the crash, a resident of the Golan Heights contacted the media to say that he had seen a vehicle with a similar description driving recklessly near one of the Kinneret beaches six hours before the crash. The man said that he had placed three separate calls to police to report the speeding, swerving car, but to no avail. Police said they had attempted to locate the vehicle but that it turned onto a beach on the Kinneret and disappeared.
Dichter's response to the committee's findings was not the first time that he spoke out strongly about the incident. Last week, he told reporters that the police response to the warnings "was clearly in contradiction to the goal of service to the public and responsibility for maintaining public security that I outlined as one of my policy guidelines for the police."
Even as the two law enforcement chiefs met Thursday, another two people were killed and one seriously injured in road collisions.
In the morning, a five-year-old boy was killed in Nazareth after being struck by an oncoming car. According to the initial investigation, the boy was walking with his mother and brother near a neighborhood school when he chased his brother across the street. A passing car struck him as he ran into the street, and it was the driver of that car who sped him to the nearby English Hospital, where the boy later died.
A second fatal collision occurred shortly afterward on Highway 85, near Majd el-Kurum in the Upper Galilee. Police said the collision had been entirely preventable, and that failure to yield was at fault in the crash that killed one person and hospitalized another four in good-to-moderate condition.
Within hours, yet another person was seriously injured, this time in the busy Beersheba market. Amid the hundreds of people who gathered in the market to make purchases one day before the new year, a forklift struck an elderly woman, seriously injuring her. She was rushed by MDA teams to Soroka Medical Center, where doctors struggled to save her life.