View From The Hills: Time to make peace on the roads

While true peace between Israel and her Arab neighbors might still be far away, “let’s make peace, [at least] on the roads."

TRAFFIC accident in Jerusalem generic 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
TRAFFIC accident in Jerusalem generic 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Driving north on Gush Etzion’s two-lane Route 60 highway toward Jerusalem on a recent Saturday night, I was startled to see not one, but two pairs of headlights side-by-side headed in my direction. Without a second to spare, I veered off the road onto the shoulder, preventing what would likely have been a head-on collision thanks to this daredevil driver who decided to put both of our lives (and those of our passengers) at risk, by illegally weaving into my lane in order to pass a slower moving vehicle.
But it seems that not only have such games of “chicken” become the norm due to reckless driving throughout the country, but that it’s come to the point where getting into a car, specifically in Judea and Samaria, is similar to Russian roulette. I can recall at least four accidents in recent months in the Gush alone which caused at least one, if not multiple fatalities.
Whether these are accidents between two cars with yellow, Israeli license plates, between yellow-plated cars and cars with the white/green-plates of the Palestinian Authority, or between two PA cars, the situation has gotten out of hand.
This despite the fact that in the Gush a campaign has been recently launched in which road signs in Hebrew and in Arabic have been strategically placed throughout the area calling on local residents to put nationalistic or political interests aside when behind the wheel and instead “do not murder,” by refraining from driving irresponsibly.
According to the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), in 2011, 41 out of the 382 Israelis killed in car accidents died on the roads of Judea and Samaria, representing only approximately 11 percent of road deaths. However, proportionally that number is just a bit lower when compared to the traffic deaths which occurred on the roads throughout the rest of the country for that year (these numbers do not factor in fatal traffic accidents caused by motorists living under full PA control, as the CBS stopped tracking those statistics as of May, 2004).
While every road death, whether in Judea and Samaria or the rest of the country is no doubt tragic, an accident earlier this month near the community of Tekoa was particularly heartbreaking. While a police investigation into the exact circumstances continues, it is known that Tekoa resident and mother of seven Dr. Shira Abramson, who was hitching a ride from Jerusalem back home to Tekoa, was killed when the south-bound vehicle she was traveling in ran over debris in the road, causing a tire to pop and the car to swerve into oncoming traffic.
The car was hit head-on by a Palestinian van and Abramson was killed instantly. The driver of Abramson’s vehicle, who sustained severe injuries but miraculously was just released from the hospital, was Rena Ish-Ran, mother of 14-year-old Yosef Ish-Ran, who was murdered a decade ago by Arab terrorists along with 13-year-old Kobi Mandell.
What makes this accident truly gut-wrenching is the fact that Abramson’s seven children are now orphaned, as their father, well-known musician David “Harpo” Abramson, died of a heart attack several years ago (just to clarify – the youngest five children were born to David and Shira, while the oldest two are Shira’s from a previous marriage, but the biological father was not involved in raising the children).
The responsibility of raising the orphans now falls on the shoulders of the two eldest children, both only in their late twenties, who are already married and have children of their own.
28-year-old Ruchama Dahan, the family’s eldest daughter and second-oldest child, says she and her older brother Shlomo are now busy getting their respective homes (she lives in Tekoa while Shlomo lives in Tzfat) ready to house their younger siblings.
She adds that she is “overwhelmed with appreciation, thanks to the support we have received from our neighbors in Tekoa who have been shopping, cooking and cleaning for the family,” while they are trying to do what is necessary to get back on their feet.
Dahan talks about how special her mother was, whether treating patients at the local Tekoa medical center or working with an organization that collects umbilical cord blood from various Jerusalem hospitals, and then uses the blood in treatment for a slew of diseases.
Dahan also describes her mother, who made aliya from Los Angeles over 30-years ago as being “extremely passionate about her Zionism,” and a figure who was “even bigger than this world.” But if she had only one word to describe her mother, whom she misses dearly, she would say that she was simply “tznua,” modest.
Following the accident, the Or Yarok Association for Safer Driving in Israel released a statement saying that the “high statistics of road-related injuries in Judea and Samaria indicate poor road infrastructure, and a lack of enforcement.” The statement added that “if there had been a sturdy separation barrier between the lanes of traffic, perhaps this serious accident would have been prevented.”
And just this week following another deadly accident near the communities of Tapuach and Migdalim in the Shomron, which claimed the lives of two people, it was reported in this newspaper that Samaria Regional Council head Gershon Mesika said that he calls on “the government to improve lighting along the roads in the West Bank, just as it does in other areas of the country.” Mesika added that successive governments have neglected roads in the area.
It is clear from the Abramson tragedy and from the other all-too-frequent traffic accidents in Judea and Samaria, both fatal and otherwise – which in many cases still result in life-altering injuries – that more needs to be done to prevent dangerous driving and to improve road conditions. While true peace between Israel and her Arab neighbors might still be far away, as also included on the new signs throughout the Gush, “let’s make peace, [at least] on the roads.”The writer is a media expert, freelance journalist, children’s author, and the host of “Reality Bytes Radio,” on
The Gush Etzion Foundation has started an emergency campaign to assist the Abramson orphans. For more information or to donate online go to