Hundreds Mourn Four Family Members Killed in Negev Crash

The Nes Tziona cemetery was full yesterday, as hundreds of people came for the funerals of Efrat Gamliel-Atinsky, her mother Esther Gamliel, and her two children, Noam, 5, and Ya'ari, 1. The family members were killed in a four-car crash in the Negev on Sunday.

Visibly absent was Efrat's husband, who was in the United States, where the family lived. He said he did not have the emotional strength to make the trip.

The hundreds of mourners were clearly shocked by the deaths.

"In these difficult moments you are at a loss for words," the rabbi said. "Who will we eulogize, and who should we cry over? ... At the place where logic ends, that is where faith begins."

"There are things that are done by our maker, whose purpose is to remind us that the lord rules the world and cycles close that we cannot begin to understand ... we can cry out, but we have no answers," the rabbi added.

There were no eulogies during the funeral. The cries of Esther's parents, in their nineties, hung over the crowd.

"It cannot be that the four of them together," the father cried over the grave. "Why? Why four? What have I done? What was my crime? ... An irresponsible man ... overtaking ... killing a family ... where is the justice? Half of my family is gone."

"Efrat's husband lives in the U.S. and told us he does not want to come to the funeral. He cannot be in this position and said he would come only after the funeral," said Esther's husband Moshe Gamliel, 75. "He cried and told me 'I cannot come. I cannot see them putting my children into the ground."

"I understand him. I am not angry," Gamliel said in a pained tone.

Gamliel said yesterday that his daughter was supposed to return to the U.S. in two weeks, where she was researching plant diseases at the University of Georgia.

When she was killed, she was on her way to visit a friend at Kibbutz Revivim, he said.

"We talked a bit, and then I tried calling her at 3 P.M., then at 4 P.M., and at 5 P.M., but there was no answer. After 5 P.M. her friend from Revivim called and said that Efrat had still not arrived. I heard on the radio that there was an accident, and I understood that something bad had happened," he said.

He later called Magen David Adom and the hospitals, but they said that she was not there. "At 8 P.M. they said on the radio that the injured had been evacuated, but there were four dead. I understood that the dead were my family," Gamliel said.

"On Saturday evening we were at home laughing, we went to the garden and photographed the granddaughters. One of my granddaughters asked me to tell her a story, something from the bible.

"She was 5, so smart, full of life. When she entered the house the home filled with light," he said.

Speaking to Haaretz yesterday, Gamliel said that he never thought such a thing could happen to his family. "I'd hear these horrific accidents. I never believed that one day they would knock on my door and tell me that this has come to my house."

He said he daughter was a good driver and knew the roads of Israel well. "She used to ride motorbikes to Eilat," he said. "This is a child who will never come back to me, or to her husband, or her two brothers."

The sister of the driver who crashed into the family's car said yesterday that he was in intensive care. "We hope he will be okay. He was usually careful when he drove, he has no violations and drove by the book."

Gamliel, who is a bus driver, said, "I am on the road all the time, and the punishments must be more severe [for violators]. The young people these days do crazy things and they need to sit in prison for a year or two."