Tour bus driver arrested


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The driver of a bus that crashed near Eilat killing 24 Russian tourists was released from the hospital and then arrested.

Edward Gelfond, 39, was ordered Thursday by a Kfar Saba court to be placed under house arrest for 30 days after paying bail of about $2,700. He was arrested on charges of suspicion of negligent homicide, reckless driving and overtaking another vehicle with a limited field of vision.

Police discovered during its initial questioning of Gelfond that he did not activate the vehicle’s black box, which would have recorded the bus speed and systems before and during the accident.

The tour bus was filled with a group of Russian tour guides who had just arrived on a flight from St. Petersburg for an organized tour. The bus plunged down a 45-foot embankment Tuesday afternoon as it attempted to pass another bus on a narrow, steep road near Eilat.

Israel’s Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz said the crash was "the result of aggressive behavior on the part of drivers," citing reports that the two bus drivers had an argument before crossing an army checkpoint shortly before the accident. Traffic police officials say they will not make any guesses until after the investigation is complete.

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