21 killed in week of deadly car crashes

6 die when truck crushes van carrying handicapped children in Kfar Saba; four of the fatalities kids.

traffic accident 248.88 (photo credit: Channel 2)
traffic accident 248.88
(photo credit: Channel 2)
Four children and two women were killed when a truck slammed into their van on Thursday afternoon at the Kever Binyamin junction on Route 55, which connects Kfar Saba to Alfei Menashe. The children, aged 12 to 13, were returning home from a special needs class. All six of the deceased were residents of Kafr Kasim. Three people were also injured in the accident. Police say the crash was caused by the van driver, who is suspected of failing to obey a stop sign. The driver has 44 previous traffic offense convictions. The truck driver who was involved in the accident also lacks a clean driving record, with 54 convictions for traffic offences. Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, Hizdai Eliezer, head of the Alfei Menashe Council, dismissed the police's explanation, saying that poor infrastructure at the junction was responsible for the collision. "A traffic light should have been installed at the junction instead of just a stop sign," he said. "There is no connection [between the accident and] the excuses being given by the police. I have been warning for years about the poor infrastructure at this junction." Eliezer said he had written in the past to former transportation minister Shaul Mofaz asking him to install a light at the intersection. He also called for the resignation of the National Road Safety Authority head Yair Dori. The NRSA said work to install a traffic light was halted after Jewish and Muslim graves were discovered in the area. But Eliezer dismissed that explanation as well, saying the NRSA was putting forward excuses for criminal negligence. "The graves excuse is nonsense," he said. "For NIS 200,000 at the very most, a traffic light could have been in place by now." Eliezer said he did not believe budgetary considerations were at fault for the delay in the road works, but rather "criminal negligence and nothing more." In the meantime, police remained adamant that the NRSA "has no link to the accident," according to a statement released on Thursday evening. "The accident was caused by a failure to adhere to a stop sign, and there is no connection to road infrastructure," the police said. The crash comes two days after five members of a family were killed when their car collided head-on with a bus on the Jordan Valley Road on Tuesday. The driver of that vehicle, who was the only one to survive the crash, was hospitalized with moderate injuries at the Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem's Ein Kerem. The family was returning to the capital from Lag Ba'omer celebrations at Mount Meron, in the Galilee. The past week has been one of the deadliest in traffic accident casualties. Twenty-one people lost their lives in accidents over the past seven days. Earlier on Thursday, a woman in her 60s died after being struck by a car while crossing a street in Upper Nazareth. According to the Or Yarok (Green Light) road safety organization, as of Tuesday, 116 people had died on the roads this year. Avi Naor, chairman of Or Yarok, said at a press conference this week that the new transportation minister, Yisrael Katz, would be judged by his ability to ensure that no more than 375 people would lose their lives on the country's roads this year, in line with the government's own target. Even counting the tragic accidents this week, the rate of deaths this year is going at a pace of 332. In 2008, 433 people were killed in traffic accidents, compared to 417 in 2007, according to Or Yarok. On September 10, 2008, a grim milestone was marked when the 30,000th Israeli died in a traffic accident since 1948. Six thousand more people have died in accidents than the total number of Israelis casualties from all of the wars, terrorist attacks and other violence in the area counted since records began in 1860.•