The Bible and the rabbinic commentators say it is the most beautiful and holiest city on earth. Even the wide-eyed pilgrims at the sightseeing spots, always taking photos with their happy faces in the foreground, say so.
Living in Jerusalem, however, isn’t quite as idyllic as visiting. The high price of housing and food, the littered streets, and the traffic snarls aren’t attractive at all. Emergency services are excellent here, but their sirens are audible all day long.
Sometimes, however, the number of sirens crosses an invisible threshold and then we know, before the announcement, that a pigua (a terror attack) has taken place.
A week ago, there was a pigua aboard a bus on the main road directly behind our home. The shrill sirens immersed the neighborhood.
Ismail Nimer, 44, of Ramallah, with no police record, had just a screwdriver, but was stabbing wildly at the passengers next to him. An armed passerby who saw the attack through the window stopped his car, rushed out and shot the perpetrator as passengers poured out the doors. The incident was under control within seconds.
A 41-year-old victim was hospitalized with moderate upper-body injuries, but there were no fatalities. God’s protection was present (Ps. 121:4).
Nearly a hundred police, military and medical vehicles converged on the scene within three minutes. The arrival of so many security and aid personnel so quickly seems excessive, but when the alert was broadcast, the magnitude of the incident was unknown. This time, a busload of civilians was traumatized, but all survived. Jerusalem has a century of experience with similar and far worse incidents involving bombs, guns, knives, cars…and screwdrivers.
A dozen times in recent years, one of the city’s bomb squads has detonated mysterious packages left at the bus stop across the street from us. Israelis are alert, and rightfully so.
This is part of our history in this holy city. The lamb and the lion do not yet lie together. The return of hundreds of thousands of Jews to their land, however, is a step along the way, auguring the day when Isaiah’s prophecy (11:6) will be fulfilled. In the synagogue services, Jews pray daily that it may be soon, just as Christian worshipers do in their churches.