Rafael Atias, OBM
Rafael Atias, OBM Asher Litvack

Thousands of people attended the funeral on Tuesday evening of the eight members of the Atias family, who died in the horrific car crash near Tiberias on Monday night.

Rafael Atias (42), his wife Yehudit (42) and six of their children – 17-year-old Aviya, 16-year-old twins Elyashiv and Neria, 11-year-old Shira, eight-year-old Tair and four-year-old Noa – were laid to rest in the cemetery in Tzfat.

Only the couple’s seven-year-old daughter, Rachel, survived the crash.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu offered his condolences over the deaths on Tuesday evening and wrote on his Facebook page, “A terrible tragedy happened in the north. An entire family perished. The whole country is now concentrating on little Rachel. Rachel - all the people are with you. All the people are hugging you.”

One of the attendees at the funeral was Minister of Science and Technology, Rabbi Prof. Daniel Hershkowitz, who just a few hours before the accident met the family at the opening of a synagogue. The tragic accident occurred as the family made its way back home from the ceremony.

“Just last night I celebrated with the Atias family, and this morning I learned that Rafi, son of Shimon who was the driving force behind the synagogue dedication ceremony, perished along with his wife and six of their children,” Hershkowitz said during the funeral.

“Rafi looked happy and excited, and it was an uplifting evening in which all of us were moved,” added Hershkowitz. “This is a chilling tragedy that is beyond our ability to comprehend.”

Police officials said on Tuesday their initial investigation had concluded the accident that claimed eight members of the Attias family resulted from mechanical failure.

However, police stress the investigation is not complete. Investigators are now reportedly looking into the cause of the mechanical defect, and have not ruled out possible negligence on the part of vehicle inspectors.

To this end, police are bringing in engineers from the Ministry of Transportation – and experts from an outside firm – to examine the car in detail.

The car passed inspection only three months ago, but the steep hills from Tzfat to Tiberias wear out brakes very quickly.