Terror struck outside my hotel window today in Jerusalem. Only minutes earlier I enjoyed a serene little stroll along the streets near the Grand Court Hotel. I was relaxing in my room on the seventh floor when sirens began to go off. Going to the window I noticed police cars rushing to the intersection of a major street and light rail train route, near where I just had been. Ambulances were on the scene and many more coming from several directions. The Intersection was quickly blocked off and further up the street was more activity, more police cars, more soldiers, another roadblock. The scene was constantly changing. Traffic was at a standstill. My eyes were drawn to the sidewalk where numerous emergency responders were already huddled close together with their backs to the traffic, obviously caring for injured on the ground. People were running to the scene only to be held back by roadblocks and police tape. A photo journalist rushed by under my window toward the chaos. Helicopters began circling overhead.
It dawned on me that I was witnessing something terrible. I sent a short text to my husband in meetings at the Bridges For Peace headquarters. He quickly informed me from online news sources that a terrorist had just rammed his van into a number of pedestrians.
As the first victims of this senseless, evil act of terrorism were taken on stretchers to waiting ambulances my tears started to fall. I prayed for all the innocent people whose lives were shattered in an instant, for the neighbourhood in upheaval, and for the peace of Jerusalem.
I ventured down to the lobby only to see a number of soldiers, both inside and out. It was only hours later I heard that one border police officer was killed and as many as fourteen civilians and border police injured. The terrorist was shot dead as he exited his vehicle.
My serene morning was over. Yesterday my husband and I took the amazing train to city centre and Ben Yehuda Street. Will I take the train tomorrow? One thing I know, we must never let terrorists win. They don’t value life, they seek to intimidate and instill fear. However, I have a new understanding of what the people in Israel face all too often. I weep for them and with them. Peace be upon Israel.
Bridges for Peace, Canada