Police arrest road rage suspects amid spate of attacks

Youths said to assault driver in Kiryat Ata for speaking rudely to elderly woman; Rehovot bus driver pushed downstairs by two teens after calling them out for not paying fares

Michael Horovitz is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel

A man attacks a bus driver in the northern city of Yokneam, after the driver refused to let him off at the traffic light, November 22, 2022. (Twitter video screenshot: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
A man attacks a bus driver in the northern city of Yokneam, after the driver refused to let him off at the traffic light, November 22, 2022. (Twitter video screenshot: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Several bus drivers and motorists have been attacked in recent days, police said Thursday, amid a growing spate of violence on Israel’s streets.

On Wednesday night, several youths pepper-sprayed a bus driver, then threw rocks at a vehicle at Kiryat Ata Junction in northern Israel, believing the driver had spoken disrespectfully to an elderly female passenger, according to a preliminary police investigation.

The driver was lightly injured and taken to Rambam Medical Center in Haifa for treatment.

In a separate incident, police on Thursday arrested a 25-year-old man from Acre suspected of beating a driver and damaging his car on the road near Kibbutz Ein Hamifratz in the north.

Police said the episode occurred after the victim apparently did not allow his attacker to enter the lane. In response, the suspect blocked the lane, got out of his car carrying an iron bar, and began to smash the victim’s car and beat him before fleeing the scene.

The victim suffered bruising and was taken to Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya for treatment. The suspect was set to appear in the Acre Magistrate’s Court on Friday, with police expected to request that he continue to be held in custody.

In a third incident, police said they arrested two 15-year-old residents of Kiryat Ekron who allegedly attacked a 60-year-old bus driver at the Rehovot Central Bus Station in central Israel on Wednesday.

According to the police, the suspects began to punch the bus driver in the head after he said that he noticed that they didn’t pay their bus fares.

The driver told the Ynet news site that the police officer who arrived on the scene told the attackers to apologize and shake hands with him, instead of taking them to the station.

“I am a father, I remember myself as a child, so I relented, I didn’t want them to have a criminal charge. They apologized and got off the bus,” he said.

Later on, at the bus station, the suspects saw the driver and attacked him again, causing him to fall downstairs, police said. He was hospitalized at Kaplan Medical Center.

The driver told Ynet that he had recently had surgery, and suffered head, neck, and back pains from the assault.

Police said they would consider extending the suspects’ detention at a court hearing.

In a fourth case that occurred over the weekend, police on Wednesday said they indicted a scooter rider suspected of assaulting a driver in Haifa.

According to an investigation, the driver overtook the scooter rider, who then honked at him. After the two stopped, the suspect kicked one of the victim’s mirrors, breaking it.

The scooter driver then assaulted the car driver, who left the car to check the damage, spraying him with pepper spray and banging his helmet on the car before fleeing. It was unclear if the victim required medical treatment following the assault.

Finally, police said they arrested a man last week on suspicion of beating a bus driver in the northern city of Yokneam after he refused to allow the passenger to get off the bus at a traffic light, instead of the next stop.

“I refused, it’s forbidden to do such a thing, they would take away my license,” the driver told investigators. The victim suffered minor injuries, and required medical treatment.

The Organization of Israeli Bus Drivers called on the Transportation Ministry to take action to end burgeoning violence against drivers.

“Drivers have become cannon fodder and suffer attacks every day. We need to stop this from snowballing before a driver is killed on the road,” the organization said.

Last Wednesday, Holon resident Yuri Volkov was stabbed to death by a scooter rider during a dispute at a crosswalk in the Tel Aviv suburb. The suspect, 23-year-old Adi Mizrahi, was arrested a day after the killing.

On Sunday evening, Mizrahi, who until then had denied that he was the culprit, confessed to killing Volkov and expressed regret for his actions.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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