A Taste of Terror
A couple of days ago, Jerusalem changed. Suddenly, there were soldiers everywhere; the police weren't just watching the road crews digging holes but instead were manning checkpoints which sprang up everywhere. Ambulances were posted in strategic areas with their crews standing by.
"What's going on?" I asked Yossi as he drove to our destination.
"Terror alert," he said shortly. He gave me one of those sideways looks I get sometimes when he is torn between telling me something that would be obvious to any Israeli and which if-I-had-a-brain-in-my-head I would know, and a certain protective instinct in guarding me from Bad News.
"Why? What's happening?" I asked, suddenly thinking that this was NOT the day to ask the Boy to walk home from school for the first time in weeks and weeks.
"What are you thinking?" Yossi asked, concerned about the alarm in my voice.
"I'm thinking about my son--he's walking home." For a just a minute, I could see Yossi seriously contemplate turning the taxi around and going to get the Boy.
"Don't," I said, answering his unspoken thought. The appointment he was taking me to was sufficiently important that it couldn't be missed.
"Does he have fare for a taxi?" Yossi asked.
No, he didn't....something his mother vowed to correct immediately. The Boy will always have taxi fare in his pocket from now on.
Instead, I called him. Calling him during school hours was sufficiently unusual that his teacher allowed him to take the call outside in the hallway. I explained the terror alert, and told him I wanted him to walk home along the back roads rather than the major roads. (He likes them better anyway--prettier and much less traffic and noise). Crossing Emek Refaim was going to be inevitable, but I warned him to exit the area as swiftly as possible and to walk as far as possible from Aroma or Tal Bagels, two attractive targets.
Smart kid. He got it immediately. He assured me that he would do as I asked, use caution in crossing Emek Refaim, avoid crowds, coffee shops and passing buses....and he called me to let me know when he made it home safely.
I next called the Husband, a veteran of the IDF's commando hostage recovery team as well as a big city police department SWAT team. He was having coffee with a fellow retired cop from his old department who was here visiting Jerusalem with his wife. They were sitting in Cup O'Joe finishing lunch when I called.
"Okay, we'll keep an eye on the door," he replied nonchalantly, and went back to schmoozing with his buddy. This is the guy who jumped a suspect described as a suicide bomber 18 years ago in California, pinned him to the ground and dragged the suspect's arms out from under them until everyone was sure the suspect didn't have his hands on a detonator. His supervisor, who once loudly proclaimed that he didn't want some "smart-a#$ Jew-boy" on his department, demanded an internal affairs investigation instead of giving him a commendation.
Then I called my step-daughter, who often takes the bus to work, then I called the neighbors (whose son was working and going to school in city center and who always takes the bus). The Israelis all knew already--the information was passing by word-of-mouth faster than I thought possible. All of Jerusalem seemed to be one vast telephone tree.
No one had details. A bomber or two were in Jerusalem. The police and military and security apparatus were pulling out all the stops looking for him/them. The alert was cancelled later that day without explanation. The Husband came home from work at the Jerusalem Police Department that night and told me that someone had told him that one suspect was in custody.
Later we heard it was two guys and a car bomb.
No one was overtly afraid. Everyone was a little more attentive to their surroundings as well as a bit nicer to each other. Nothing like Death stalking the streets to put your lives in perspective.
And Olmert wants to give them half of Jerusalem. Idiot.