Seven people were killed when an Israeli bus collided with two Palestinian vehicles on a major West Bank road Tuesday.
Paramedics said an armored Israeli bus, a Palestinian minibus and a Palestinian car all collided on Route 60 south of the settlement of Ofra. It was not initially clear what caused the smash.
The Magen David Adom rescue service said six Palestinian occupants of the minibus were declared dead at the scene and the two other casualties were taken to hospitals in Jerusalem.
The driver of the minibus, aged around 50, a man and woman in their 30s, and three minors aged seven, eight and 15 — two boys and a girl, were all declared dead at the scene by MDA paramedics and an IDF doctor who arrived to assist.
A 17-year-old Palestinian on the minibus suffered serious head injuries. and was taken by ambulance to Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus, but later died of his injuries, officials said.
A spokesperson for the Red Crescent said he could not confirm reports that many of the killed were from the same Bethlehem family.
Large numbers of MDA units and ambulances rushed to the scene of the accident, MDA said.
The driver of the Israeli bus, aged around 50, was also injured and taken in moderate condition to Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem. The bus was empty at the time of the crash.
MDA Paramedic Yair Schussheim said several of the casualties had been trapped in the wreckage..
“We saw a taxi that was split in half, and five people trapped inside, the driver outside the vehicle, trapped under a car, and another injured person lying nearby,” he said in a statement from MDA. “The passengers trapped inside the vehicle had extremely serious injuries and died at the scene. After extracting them we declared the six passengers dead.”
Israeli buses that travel in the West Bank are often reinforced with strengthened windows and side paneling as protection against rocks and bullets. The protection makes the buses sturdier and heavier.
The crash is the second deadly incident on the same stretch of road in under a week.
Last Friday, three people were killed and five wounded in a deadly car accident between an Israeli vehicle and a Palestinian vehicle, also on Route 60, heading north toward the settlement of Beit El.
Pictures from the scene show that the Palestinian car veered off the road and tumbled down into nearby rocks as a result of the crash. The car was found flipped over. The fatalities were passengers in the Palestinian car, three women aged 20, 50 and 60, according to an Israel Police statement. Two Palestinians, a woman in her 30s and a man in his late 50s, were listed in serious condition. One Israeli was moderately hurt and two were lightly injured.