In a road tragedy that shocked the country on Tuesday, an entire family of both parents and six children met their death in a head-on collision between two cars on Route 90 near the Dead Sea.
Yariv Atar, z”l, and his wife, Shoshi, a”h, from Psagot in the Binyamin region, were identified as the parents in the terrible tragedy. The names of the children, zichronam livrachah, have not yet been disclosed.
The family was reportedly traveling in a minivan that collided with an SUV on the winding desert highway along the Dead Sea. The cause of the accident is under investigation.
According to initial reports, the vehicle carrying the Atar family caught fire following the collision, and at least some of the members perished in the blaze before rescuers could extract them from the wreckage.
“This was a shocking and difficult accident. When our medics and paramedics arrived, the vehicle [in which the eight deceased were traveling] was burning, and it was impossible to rescue them,” MDA spokesperson Zaki Heller said.
In the SUV, a 52-year-old woman and 12-year-old child were moderately injured and were rushed to Soroka Hospital in Beersheva. The driver, in his fifties, was lightly hurt.
Sara Israeli, a Magen David Adom medic who arrived at the scene, told Channel 10 news: “I’ve never seen a disaster like this in all my years in MDA. It’s impossible to comprehend those sights.”
She said the driver of the SUV vehicle was “hysterical. He shouted, ‘I killed them, I killed them.’”
“I have nothing to hide, everyone knows exactly what happened,” he cried. “This is the first time this happened to me. I don’t remember what happened. I know I killed people, I will never drive again.”
Expressions of condolence were immediately posted by senior Israeli officials.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said his “heart is torn as an entire family has been wiped out.”
“My wife Sarah and I grieve with all the citizens of Israel for the lives that were lost,” he wrote on Twitter. “Today, when many Israeli citizens take advantage of the sabbatical day for day-trips, I ask you to do everything in order to return home safely.”
Interior Minister Rabbi Aryeh Deri wrote: “Shocking, heart-wrenching, an unimaginable disaster. Family members of Binyamin, a father, mother, and their children were killed in an accident near the Dead Sea. Everything seems so insignificant in comparison and my mind refuses to absorb it.”
MK Bezalel Smortrich (Jewish Home): “A whole family has gone, I still cannot fathom it, I am embracing and strengthening the residents of Psagot and Mateh Binyamin during these difficult times. We must take it upon ourselves to act with great care, nothing, but nothing is worth it.”
MK Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin (Zionist Camp) urged action to prevent any further such accidents.
“That road has been a danger for many years,” she said “At the end of the day, we must figure out how to prevent these accidents. We must install a barrier on the road, at least in part, and I intend to approach the Minister of Transport in order to promote such a plan as soon as possible.”
Updated Tuesday, October 30, 2018 at 1:41 pm Additional information