Two girls aged 4 and 7 were killed Thursday in a head-on collision on Route 90 in the southern Arava region.
Five more people were injured. Two men in their 40s were in one of the two vehicles, and were taken to the hospital in serious condition.
Three more people were lightly injured in the second car, including the two girls’ parents, both in their 30s, and a baby.
All of the injured were taken to Beersheba’s Soroka Hospital by civilian and military helicopters.
The accident occurred on the road between the tiny desert villages of Ein Yahav and Paran.
Police shut the road following the accident, and were directing traffic to other routes.
There was no immediate information on the cause of the collision. Police and traffic safety officials have launched an investigation.
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 currently 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 Transportation Ministry plan announced last year will see the road expanded to two lanes in each direction with an option to add a third lane on some sections of the 480-kilometer route.
The budget for the expansion, however, has faced delays.
Following Thursday’s accident, Eyal Blum, head of the Middle Arava Regional Council, said in a statement: “How many more lives will Route 90 claim before the government of Israel approves the budget required for expanding the road?”