Four killed in car crash in south, including 3 family members

Two vehicles smash into each other in head-on collision on Route 90; father and two young daughters killed, mother and son injured

A deadly road accident on Route 90, June 20, 2024 (Fire and Rescue)
A deadly road accident on Route 90, June 20, 2024 (Fire and Rescue)

Four people were killed Wednesday overnight when two cars collided with each other on Route 90 in the southern Negev, north of Moshav Ein Hatzeva. Three of the victims were members of the same family — a father and two young daughters.

The driver of the second vehicle had apparently swerved into the family’s lane, hitting them head-on.

The Magen David Adom ambulance service said medics pronounced the deaths of four people at the scene and took two others in serious and moderate condition to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba.

According to MDA, the fatalities were the driver of one car, and in the other car a man and two girls. A woman in the second car was seriously injured and a teenage boy suffered moderate injuries.

The two injured people were taken in an MDA and IDF helicopter to the hospital.

Hebrew media reports identified the deceased driver of one car as Basal Abu Al-Asal, 27, of the Bedouin town of Rahat. In the other vehicle, Diyaa Asalah, 47, and his two daughters, 15 and 10, all from the Arab town of Arraba, were killed. The injured woman was the mother and the boy was a son, according to the reports.

Police opened an investigation into the incident.

According to the Ynet news outlet, an initial probe found that Al-Asal was driving alone toward the southern port city of Eilat when he swerved into the opposite lane on a straight section of road, hitting the Asalahs’ vehicle.

Route 90, Israel’s longest highway, runs along the eastern boundary from Metula in the north to Eilat in the south. Most of the road is decades old and consists of only one lane in each direction, with no divider. Its length and characteristics have made it one of the country’s deadliest routes.

A number of fatal crashes in recent years have sparked calls for significant safety upgrades on the road, which also traverses the West Bank.

Last month, State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman issued a report on road safety that found funds have not been transferred for road maintenance amid other deficiencies in improving highways. The report highlighted the situation on Route 90 among other notorious roads, and pointed to a previous state comptroller report from 2021 that discussed the dangers on the highway, in particular the section between Arava Junction and Eilat. Wednesday night’s accident was on that section of the road.

The 2021 report noted that the road leaves no room for error on the part of drivers and that any diversion from a lane can cause a deadly collision.

Following the 2021 report the finance and transportation ministries announced a NIS 110 million ($29.6 million) budget to improve the highway, in addition to NIS 300 million ($80.8 million) that had been set aside to widen some sections. However, in his review, Englman found the work had not been completed.

On Wednesday, the European Transport Safety Council published its 18th annual Road Safety Performance Index report. Israel was one of only four out of the 32 monitored countries that recorded an increase in the annual death toll on its roads over the decade from 2013-2023. According to the report, Israel saw a 17% increase in fatalities during that period, the others being the Netherlands and Slovakia (20% increase each) and Spain with a 6% increase.

Since the start of the year, 221 people have been killed in road accidents in Israel compared to 177 during the same period last year.

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