Special Section Set Aside for Burial of Boy Killed in Crash

A 12-year-old boy who was run over by a taxi this week will be buried today in a section of the Ofakim cemetery that the city's religious authorities have set aside for him and any others who are not officially recognized as Jewish.

The authorities set the section aside only after the intervention of MK Robert Tibayev (Kadima) and Ofakim Mayor Tzvika Gringold. The boy, Arik Ofer, died at Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva yesterday, one of six Israelis who died yesterday of injuries sustained in traffic accidents.

Ofer was riding his bike with a friend Sunday when he was struck by the taxi, whose driver did not stop at a crosswalk, police said.

Ofakim's religious authorities had initially refused to allow him to be buried in the cemetery. They said the Jewish status of his mother, Ina, was in question and the city's cemetery had no burial ground for those whose religious affiliation was uncertain.

The religious authorities asked the principal of Arik's school about his Jewish status, and the family was asked the name of the mohel who circumcised him.

Ofer's adoptive father, Eitan, insisted that the boy be buried in the city.

"My son will be buried in Ofakim, the place where he was taken from me," he said.

The authorities agreed to set aside a section of the cemetery after the intervention of Tibayev and Gringold.

"Following this unfortunate incident, a section of the cemetery in Ofakim has finally been set aside for people without a religion," Tibayev said.

After receiving news of his son's death, Eitan said, "Order has been broken. Parents are burying a child. A child who did no wrong, who was crossing the street at the crosswalk as the law requires, who finished his homework and wanted to play. Watch out for yourselves. What happened to us can happen to anyone. We are wiping ourselves out by our own doing."

Dozens of Ofer's friends came to visit him at the hospital yesterday, only to discover that he had already died.

A friend of Ofer's who had been riding his bike with him and was also hit by the taxi has not been told of the death, because his family fears his condition is too unstable to hear the news.

Michael Levy, the taxi driver who police said hit Ofer, is to be summoned for police questioning in the next few days. His driver's license has been suspended for 60 days, and the suspension is due to be extended another 30 days pending the final disposition of the case.

Boy, 8, among other casualties

An 8-year-old boy from the village of Jisr al-Zarqa, near Hadera, was struck by a car and killed yesterday evening as he was crossing the main street in the village.

Police have detained the driver, one of the boy's relatives, who was taking him to Hillel Yaffeh Medical Center in Hadera when an ambulance crew arrived and declared him dead.

Around the same time, a 65-year old man, Suheil Watfa, of Jedeida in the Western Galilee, was crushed to death by the tractor he was driving when it overturned in an olive grove.

Near the Mishor Adumim junction on the Jerusalem-Dead Sea road, Staff Sgt. Barak Yifrah, a 20-year-old Israel Defense Forces soldier from Ma'alot, was killed when a tourist bus coming from the Dead Sea crashed into his vehicle. Two other soldiers in the vehicle were injured, one seriously.

In north Tel Aviv, a 55-year-old pedestrian was struck by a car and killed. The driver, who is 65, said Dina Turjeman was not crossing the street at a crosswalk. He said she appeared suddenly from between parked cars.

In addition, a 52-year-old man who was injured in a traffic accident in Ramat Gan last week succumbed to his injuries yesterday.