Two Israeli youth counselors killed, 5 injured in Sinai car crash

Two young Israelis were killed and another five were injured Thursday in a road crash in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, just shy of the border with Israel.

The seven, who according to Hebrew media reports were all counselors at a Jerusalem boarding school, were on their way back from a beachside vacation and mere minutes from the border when the taxi van taking them smashed into a second vehicle.

The victims were identified as Yuval Keshet, 24, from Haifa, and Moshe Matan Luzon, 25, from Petah Tikva.

“A terrible tragedy has come upon us,” staff at Boyer Boarding School wrote in a message to pupils and parents. “We’ve lost our loved ones.”

The Foreign Ministry initially said two of the seven were in critical condition. They were later declared dead in Egypt. The five wounded were first taken to a local medical clinic before being taken to the border and then to Eilat’s Yoseftal Medical Center.

Israel Defense Forces helicopters were initially sent to assist in bringing the injured to hospitals in Israel. According to Hebrew media reports, Cairo would not allow the helicopters to land inside Egypt, delaying the Israelis’ return for several hours.

Moshe Matan Luzon, left, and Yuval Keshet. (social media)

They were instead brought to the border crossing and handed over. Channel 12 reported the Egyptians had initially given permission for the helicopters to land in Egypt but then reversed the decision.

The accident took place in the Nuweiba region of Sinai, a 20-minute drive from the border crossing with Israel.

The father of one of the injured Israelis told Kan news that he managed to speak with his daughter and she’d told him the group were heading for the Taba border crossing with Israel when the accident happened, and that she had blamed the driver.

“The driver was traveling at a crazy speed, overtook [another vehicle]and crashed into an oncoming car,” he told Kan, citing his daughter.

He spoke of his relief that she had survived. “I was given my daughter as a gift,” he said.

In 2006, 12 Israelis were killed and many others injured in a Sinai road accident. Some of the victims’ families claimed it was a terror attack and that the driver deliberately crashed the vehicle.

Earlier this month 23 people were killed when a passenger bus slammed into a parked trailer truck on a highway in southern Egypt.

Traffic accidents kill thousands every year in Egypt, which has a poor transportation safety record. Crashes are mostly caused by speeding, careless driving, bad roads or poor enforcement of traffic laws.

In January, at least 16 people were killed and 18 others injured when a minibus collided with a public transportation bus in the Sinai Peninsula. In April last year, a bus overturned while trying to pass a truck on a highway in the southern province of Assiut, leaving at least 21 people dead and three others injured.

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