A 26-year-old drunk driver whose license was rescinded just three days ago after accumulating more than a dozen and a half traffic violations ran a red light and plunged into a private vehicle near the central Israeli city of Lod early Sunday morning, killing four people, including three members of the same family, in the first of two deadly traffic accidents yesterday, police and rescue officials said.
At least two people were killed in a second traffic accident later in the day.
The early morning accident took place after a private vehicle with five family members driving from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv turned off the highway and stopped at an intersection on the outskirts of the central Israeli city.
As the light turned green the car began crossing the intersection, when suddenly another vehicle traveling at high speed entered the intersection from the opposite direction despite the red light, and rammed into the first vehicle.
Police said witnesses had reported seeing the second car crossing into the intersections when the light was red just before the crash.
The Iranian-born husband and wife traveling in the first car, identified as Alan Mortzifer, 41, and his wife Marjan Mortzifer, 30 of Netanya were immediately killed as was a 40 year old relative who was visiting Israel from Iran, Porper Archi.
The couple killed in the crash left behind three orphans ages two, four and six.
They had moved to Israel seven years ago.
Two others passengers in the car, including another family member and a family friend, were seriously injured in the accident.
A 22-year-old woman traveling in the car with the drunk driver, Ida Gartzia of Jaffa, was mortally injured in the accident, and died of her wounds in hospital.
The woman was a single mother of two children, aged two and four.
The 26-year-old drunk driver, Ibrahim Abu-Zena of Lod, had accumulated 19 prior convictions for traffic offenses in the last six years, police said.
The driver, who was lightly injured in the accident, was arrested on the scene.
A blood test showed his alcohol level was 2.5 times higher than the limit set by law.
During his police interrogation, he asserted that the dead woman was driving the car, an allegation police described as "outrageous."
Police said that they plan to charge him with manslaughter in the coming days.
Later in the afternoon, two more people were killed in a separate collision between two trucks and a private vehicle on Route Six near the Nachshonim intersection, police said.
Three other people were injured in the accident, including one in critical condition.
The cause of the accident, involving a cement mixer which careened off of a bridge, was under investigation.
Since the beginning of the year, at least 366 people have been killed in traffic accidents nationwide.
By comparison, 511 people were killed in road accidents in Israel in 2004.