A day of prayer ended in mourning for members of Israel’s Negev desert Bedouin community Tuesday when eight women returning from a trip to Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem were killed in a road accident.
The accident occurred when a truck transporting farm machinery collided with a bus carrying about 50 women from several Bedouin communities on a road in southern Israel, police officials said. The metal-clawed equipment raked the length of the bus, killing eight passengers and injuring dozens of others.
The women were making their way home after a day trip to Jerusalem for prayers at the Muslim holy site.
Anxious male relatives gathered at the Soroka hospital in nearby Beersheba to await word about mothers and wives, as dozens of ambulances arrived with the wounded.
Firefighters, Ultraorthodox emergency volunteers and soldiers from an elite army unit joined in the effort to extricate casualties trapped in the mangled bus.
“This is a difficult, painful day for the whole Negev,” said Talal Krinawi, mayor of Rahat, Israel’s largest Bedouin community.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement expressing “sorrow for the loss of life in the tragic accident.”
Sobelman is a special correspondent.