Accident site
Accident site Traffic Police Spokesperson

Eight women in their fifties were killed and 28 others were wounded on Tuesday afternoon in a massive traffic accident that involved a truck, a bus and a private vehicle adjacent to Lehavim Junction in the Negev in Israel's south.

The bus that was in the crash was filled with female Bedouin Arab passengers from the Negev who were returning from prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque on Jerusalem's Temple Mount.

It is suspected that as the bus was travelling on Highway 40 adjacent to Lehavim Junction, a truck pulling a tractor in the opposite direction broke into its lane. The tractor is suspected to have extended from the truck wider than is permitted, and therefore it directly struck the bus.

Numerous Magen David Adom (MDA) emergency aid crews arrived on the site to provide treatment; the crash has been declared a mass casualty incident. The crews evacuated to the hospital 28 people who were in moderate to light condition.

In parallel, the IDF dispatched its Unit 669 to the site of the accident to help evacuate the numerous wounded. A unit from the IDF Homefront Command is likewise on its way to the location.

Elad Levi, a volunteer with United Hatzalah emergency services, said "when I arrived at the location I came across a very difficult scene - a bus struck by a truck that was pulling a tractor, and as a result some of the bus passengers were killed on the site due to the nature of the severe damage."

"With other volunteers from the motorcycle unit of United Hatzalah we provided first aid to several other wounded who were still conscious," he concluded.

Hanania Leiner, another volunteer who was at the scene, reported "it was a truly tragic scene with most of the fatalities and many of the injured were elderly people - the scene was littered with bloodied walking sticks and canes."

"The tragedy was caused by a tractor carried by a truck in the opposite lane that broke loose and slammed into the side of the bus. All the fatalities were people who were sitting at the windows. When the tractor ripped through the side of the bus they were killed immediately," added Leiner.

Due to the crash Highway 31 has been closed from Shokat Junction up to Eshkolot Square, and on Highway 40 the turn to the right towards Lehavim on Lehavim Junction has been sealed.

credit: משטרת התנועה
credit: משטרת התנועה
credit: דוברות מד"א

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