Stopping road rage in Israel as important as stopping terror - editorial

Cases of road rage are not rare and they need to be treated with all seriousness. The victims of road rage deserve no less attention than the victims of terrorism. A murder is a murder. 

 Police at the scene where a man killed after being stabbed during a road rage incident in Holon, on November 23, 2022 (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)
Police at the scene where a man killed after being stabbed during a road rage incident in Holon, on November 23, 2022
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)

The terrible toll of last week’s double terror attack in Jerusalem – in which two people lost their lives – and the murder and abduction of the Daliat al-Carmel teenager from a hospital in Jenin put the focus sharply on Palestinian terrorism and the ongoing wave of violence.

But we should not let the tragic deaths of Aryeh Shechopek, Tadasa Tashume Ben Ma’ada and Tiran Ferro distract us from another terrible loss.

Yuri Volkov, 52, was stabbed to death on Wednesday following an argument with a motorcyclist who, as can be seen in security camera footage from the incident, almost ran over Volkov and his wife, Lena, as they were walking on a pedestrian crossing in Holon. 

When Lena started to take pictures of the motorcyclist, he drove back and demanded she delete them, which she started to do, according to interviews the bereaved family later gave. 

But the suspect, 22-year-old Adi Mizrahi, nonetheless continued to yell at her. Volkov went up to the driver to reassure him that they meant no harm and the footage would be erased but almost as soon as he started to speak, Mizrahi produced a sharp implement, stabbed him directly in the heart and drove off. Volkov collapsed moments later and his life could not be saved.

 Police at the scene where a man killed after being stabbed during a road rage incident in Holon, on November 23, 2022 (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90) Police at the scene where a man killed after being stabbed during a road rage incident in Holon, on November 23, 2022 (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)

On Thursday, Tel Aviv District police arrested the suspect, a local who was already known to the authorities. During the arrest, Mizrahi’s pit bull attacked the detectives, biting them and causing light-to-moderate injuries to two of the officers. In response, police shot the dog and killed it.

Volkov and his wife were both hardworking employees of Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv. Hundreds attended his funeral on Sunday, and friends have started a fundraising campaign to help cope with the costs and financial challenge of his death. Volkov is survived by three children and a granddaughter.

“He helped people even on the day he died,” his widow told journalists in tearful interviews.

One of his daughters, Daria, told Radio 103 FM that her father worked in ICU during the height of the pandemic, survived COVID three times, and always helped others.

“He has left an unbearable void,” she said. “Lena has been shattered to small pieces,” said Daria, Volkov’s daughter from his first marriage. Volkov and Lena had a young child together to whom Yuri was devoted. 

Adding insult to injury, the suspect was originally detained for manslaughter, the charge being changed to homicide only after a public outcry. 

“If this is not a case of murder then the State of Israel should just be shut down,” the family said in a statement. “An individual who murdered an innocent person for no logical reason must rot in prison forever.” 

“An individual who murdered an innocent person for no logical reason must rot in prison forever.”

Family of Yuri Volkov

Violent, lethal road rage in Israel

The family’s grief and shock are understandable. It is unthinkable that a man can be killed crossing the road – not by a vehicle out of control, but by an out-of-control motorcyclist. Or it should be unthinkable.

Recently there has been a spate of similar incidents that were also potentially lethal. Just three weeks ago, a motorcyclist used his helmet as a weapon to hit another driver on the head and continued to kick him when he was down in an incident caught on camera on Tel Aviv’s Ayalon Highway. 

The victim was hospitalized in intensive care with fractures to his skull and intracranial bleeding. The motorcyclist in that incident was charged with aggravated assault.

Cases of road rage are not rare and they need to be treated with all seriousness. The victims of road rage deserve no less attention than the victims of terrorism. A murder is a murder. 

Controlling violence on the roads is no less important than tackling terrorism. It requires a multi-tiered approach – from education to preventative measures with more policing. The judicial system must give out deterrent sentences. 

In addition, there should be programs within prisons for road rage offenders the way there are for abusive husbands, helping the perpetrators recognize the severity of their crime.

The incoming government needs to understand this too. Nothing will bring Yuri Volkov back to life, but if his death serves as a wake-up call to change the way road rage is treated, it might help prevent other senseless murders.