[Video below.] A group of volunteers were among the first to arrive at the scene of the fatal train collision with a minibus at a railroad crossing north of Kiryat Gat on Thursday evening. As the full horror of the crash, in which seven members of one family were killed and 20 others injured, was revealed, it became apparent that they knew the victims: Aryeh Bernstein, the head of the family, who died along with his wife, his pregnant daughter and four other children, was himself a ZAKA volunteer from Beitar Illit. Bernstein’s yellow ZAKA volunteer vest and hat was found among his belongings in the minibus.
ZAKA Chairman Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, who rushed to attend to the scene from his home in Jerusalem: “The family is well-known. Aryeh was a very important veteran volunteer who attended my daughter’s wedding only last week. This incident, in which an entire family has been wiped out, is very hard, but the pain for us is doubled when we are talking about a respected member of the ZAKA family.”
ZAKA volunteer Motti Bukchin: “ZAKA volunteers are often called in to gruesome and horrifying scenes, and the public probably considered us as tried and tested and immune to the pain of seeing tragedy unfold. But we are not immune to pain, and on the scene I saw a couple of the volunteers standing to the side and shedding a tear for our friend Aryeh.”
ZAKA volunteer Moshe Anki, who was one of the first to arrive at the scene, spoke about the chaos he found on arrival: “The scenes were very difficult, among the dead were two young children. The first thing we did on arrival was to help MDA treat the survivors from the minibus.”
The names of the fatalities were released on Friday morning: Aryeh Bernstein, 43, his wife Rivka Bernstein, 41, and their children Mordechai, age 9, Chaya, 14 and Yochanan, 16, all from Beitar Illit. Their pregnant daughter Malki Gotstein, 21, was also killed, together with her one-and-a-half-year-old son, Mordechai. Malki’s husband, Dudi, is the only family member to survive the crash and is in moderate condition in Barzilai hospital in Ashkelon. The driver of the minibus, a neighbor of the Bernstein family, survived the crash and is in moderate condition in Soroka Hospital.
Click below for a video of the levaya:
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