Photo: Shaul Sholansky
Heavy floods across country
Photo: Shaul Sholansky

5 people die in floods

Three people killed in road accident after driver loses control in Jordan Rift Valley; earlier, woman dies after car was swept away by floods. Palestinian man dies near West Bank security fence, locals blame army

(VIDEO) The heavy rains that fell in the last 24 hours across the country caused floods in many of Israel's highways and claimed the lives of five people: Three road accident victims, a Palestinian man and a woman from the Wadi Ara area.


Around 3 p.m. three people were killed and two others sustained injuries in a road accident in the Jordan Rift Valley. The driver of the vehicle apparently lost control of his vehicle after hitting a puddle and collided with another vehicle.


Motorists rescued (Photo: AP)


Elsewhere, the body of 23-year-old Samir Mahmid from the Arab-Israeli town of Umm al-Fahem , whose car swept away near the Mei Ami junction, was found dead after hours of extensive searches. An IDF soldiers at the site was able to rescue Mahmid's husband.


The Palestinian man, 26 years-old Iyad Taha, a resident of the West Bank village of Beit Anan, was discovered lifeless after on Saturday his car was swept away in the vicinity of the security fence near the village of Bil'in. Another man who was with him in the vehicle at the time managed to escape unharmed.


Taha's body was uncovered on the fence itself, and local residents claim that the IDF prevented Palestinian rescue teams from crossing the fence to the Israeli side in order to save the man's life.


Taha and his brother passed daily through the new road constructed near the fence's route, a road that according to the Palestinians suffers from poor planning, as it runs in a valley area located between two mountains. The Palestinians claim that the flawed planning was aimed at serving the expansion of the nearby settlement of Beitar Illit, without taking into consideration the possibility of flooding.


Taha and his brother's car were washed away by the water that accumulated on the road. The two men exited the vehicle, but were swept by the strong current in the direction of the fence.


Eyewitnesses who noticed the two were able to save Iyad's brother, but Iyad himself failed to fight off the powerful current. According to Bil'in residents, Israeli officials and the army did not allow Palestinian rescue teams to enter through the fence for hours. Residents say they were not allowed to dig a pit next to the fence in order drain the water, with civilian and army representatives explaining that such a pit would undermine the fence route.


Muhammad Khatib, a member of the Popular Committee Against the Separation Fence in Bil'in said locals are blaming the army for Taha's death, adding "we are talking about another martyr, another casualty of the fence, whose flawed planning proves everything was done not only for security needs, but also in order to expand settlements at the expense of our land."


Sharon Roffe Ofir contributed to the story


פרסום ראשון: 04.02.06, 16:40
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