“We thought we had already seen everything there is to see…” is the comment which echoes repeatedly from talks with Israelis following the suicide bomb attack in the Shemuel HaNavi Street in Jerusalem. The city bus, an especially long “edition” of the usual buses, was full of orthodox Jews on their way home from the Western Wall, the holiest Jewish site in the Old City of Jerusalem, when Ra’ed Abdul Hamid Mask from Hebron blew himself up.
Before the Moslem, dressed as an orthodox Jew, activated the ignition of his body belt of explosives, he would have been able to look into the faces of the people whom he intended to drag with him into death: devout Jews who wanted nothing other than to pray and study, ultra-orthodox Rabbis, pregnant women and small children.
The minutely planned attack was carried out by a Palestinian who in no way conformed to the usual pattern of suicide killers. The 29-year-old Islamic cleric was married, the father of 2 small children, educated and well-to-do. His wife publically expressed her hope that her husband would be “warmly received by Allah as a martyr.”
Israel has witnessed a lot of terrible scenes in the past years. Fathers have buried their sons, sons have recited at the graves of their fathers the “Kaddisch”, the traditional prayer of the dead. Mothers have wept for their children, pregnant women for the dead fathers of their unborn babies.
This time a father and his son were carried to their final resting place. One of the victims was the 22-year-old Lilach, nine months pregnant. She left behind her one-year-old motherless son. And then there’s the toddler who was found alive beneath the corpses hours after the attack, or the badly injured Ora Cohen, who was sitting in the route 2 bus with her five children when the explosion occurred. For hours she feared for her family, until most of the children were traced, lying wounded in different hospitals. “Only” one of them is dead. The personal tragedies are endless. 24 hours after the attack, 40 people are still being treated in hospital, among them 22 children.
Since the Islamists declared a “Hudna”, or ceasefire, at the end of June, the Israeli security forces have counted more than 200 attacks against Israeli targets. Just one day before the fatal suicide attack in Jerusalem, a suicide bomber and two assistants were arrested on their way to the Northern Israel city of Haifa. The Israeli government now appears to have decided to do itself what it had expected from the Palestinian security forces: to incapacitate the terror organizations. One can only hope that the key people involved will come to reason before the Middle East has really seen everything that there is to see.
translation by Nicola Vollkommer