Debt Drives Negev Couple to Suicide

An elderly man from a Negev moshav committed suicide yesterday, apparently because of mounting debt. His wife changed her mind at the last minute and survived.

Yesterday morning Yair Ben-Tzur, 77, attached a hose to the exhaust pipe of the couple's car, which was parked behind their home at Moshav Nir Akiva.

He and his wife Yael Ben-Tzur, 72, sat in the car, and he started the engine.

When they began choking from the carbon monoxide Yael Ben-Tzur changed her mind and got out of the car.

She telephoned her son, who called for an ambulance, but by the time the Magen David Adom team arrived, her husband was already dead.

Ten days earlier, Yair Ben-Tzur had attempted suicide with cooking gas, but at the last minute his son came in and stopped him.

The family physician was informed of the incident, but Ben-Tzur denied he was trying to kill himself.

The Ben-Tzurs moved to Nir Akiva seven years ago, after accumulating large debts on their farm on Moshav Bat Hadar.

Yair Ben-Tzur apparently borrowed close to NIS 500,000 on the "gray market" when he was unable to secure a bank loan, and became depressed after realizing he could not repay his debts.

"My father accumulated debts on the gray market and couldn't repay them. We the children tried to help but the sums were astronomic," Hagit, the couple's daughter, told Haaretz yesterday.

"Every day he was late, another 10 percent in interest was added, he couldn't take it anymore," Hagit said. "Father was a good farmer but apparently not such a good businessman."