Monday, February 09, 2004

Thought it was time that I had a mouthpiece other than my regular emails to family and friends. This seems like a good way to be going about it.

My latest interfamily email related to the terrorist bombing on the corner of Aza and Arlozorov Streets in which 11 people were killed. The response that I received to it suggested that I should make sure it reaches a wider audiences. The text, with minor alterations is below. I won't only be writing about the doom and gloom but as this inspired me to write it seems a suitable starting point.


"Dear family and friends,

Once again, I find myself writing to inform you that I am shaken but otherwise okay after another terrorist bomb attack on a Jerusalem bus. I find the process of writing to be something of a catharsis, a way in which I can confront my emotions.

Whilst talking on the phone just before 9 this morning, I heard a huge bang. It was clear straight away that it was a bomb, a large one and close by at that. After having completed the phone call, without any news teams yet on the scene, but with sirens screaming from all directions, I ran outside to see what information I could glean. Police were already on the scene, accompanied by ambulances, fire engines and ZAKA volunteers; the Jerusalem emergency services are well trained in reacting fast to bombings.

The police lines made it impossible to get near to the scene of the attack. At first I was told that it had occurred on the corner of Balfour and Aza streets; next to the PM's residence. As I walked down to Rechov Aza it became clear that the bombing had been closer still; on the corner of Arlozorov and Aza, 75 metres from my office; a junction that I go through pretty much daily. If the bombings at Cafe Moment on March 9th 2002 and Cafe Hillel on September 5th 2003 had been on my doorstep, this was over the threshold. I had bought Hot Chocolate from Chocolate, the cafe on the corner on the previous day. Today, 10 yards away, stood the mangled frame of the bus whilst the emergency services did their jobs, stretchers were rushed past me and lifted into ambulances which screeched away towards the emergency departments at Shaarei Tzedek , Hadassah and Bikur Holim.

The routine is far too familiar - your phone starts ringing, texts come pouring in. I first called my girlfriend to check that she was okay, then my mother to reassure her that I wasn't involved. Other friends got in on the act including calls from overseas. It seems that everyone I know is okay but others were not so lucky; 11 people were killed, upwards of 50 wounded. Guilty only of getting on the wrong number 19 bus. It is the bus to the Hebrew University at Mount Scopus; a bus that my girlfriend, gets on all the time; a bus that she got on again, just hours after the bombing .

I walked around the corner 3 1/2 hours after the attack; as I walked up the street, already clear of debris, another number 19 bus, came eerily around the corner. The only sign of the attack was the people thronging on the corners and a few remaining TV crews. Jerusalemites have unfortunately become used to having to deal with terror attacks; the response is overwhelmingly one of "life goes on". Whilst I mourn the dead, I will adopt the same response and get on with my life. I will not let those who are celebrating the slaughter win."

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