JERUSALEM (Jun. 19)
Hadassah Lipszyc came from London to Jerusalem to study for a year.
She might not have realized how close she would get to a war.
“It’s really scary,” said Lipszyc, 17, who lives a block from the French Hill bus stop where a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up on Wednesday afternoon, killing seven Israelis and wounding at least 38.
“You feel like it’s really near you and that it could happen to you,” she said. “I could have been there.”
Sometimes it seems that terror is becoming more the norm than the exception for residents of Jerusalem. Wednesday’s attack was the second straight day that a suicide bomber struck in Israel’s capital.
The bomber got out of a car and began running toward a bus stop and hitchhiking post where Israelis — many of whom are afraid to use buses these days — waited for rides. The bomber detonated himself as a border policeman chased him.
The Al-Aksa Brigade, a militia of Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement, claimed responsibility for the attack.
A day earlier, 19 people, including several schoolchildren, were killed when a Palestinian terrorist blew up a bus. More than 50 people were injured.
Israel’s Security Cabinet announced late Tuesday night that it would begin seizing chunks of Palestinian land in response to each terror attack.
After Wednesday’s attack, Israel launched airstrikes in the Gaza Strip and entered Palestinian cities in the West Bank, searching for suspected terrorists. Witnesses said Israeli helicopters fired at least five missiles at targets in the Gaza Strip.
The French Hill bus stop is on a main highway near the northern exit from Jerusalem, near roads leading to Ramallah and Jericho.
Behind the bus stop is a large retaining wall topped with grass. After Wednesday’s bombing, emergency workers used ladders to reach the top of the wall, searching for body parts.
The explosion blew out the back and sides of the bus stop, leaving just a concrete bench and roof.
Several body bags were lined up nearby, and blood stained the street.
A relatively affluent neighborhood close to the Hebrew University, French Hill has been the site of previous attacks, and police presence there was high.
Neighborhood resident Ran Partock said he tries not to think about how close the attacks are to his home.
“All of Jerusalem is under attack. It makes no difference neighborhood to neighborhood,” Partock said.
He also tries not to alter his daily routine because of potential attacks, he said.
“It won’t help,” he said. “If they want to hurt someone they will, and it will destroy the fabric of our life.”
The suicide attacks in Jerusalem have become so common that some people even seem unaffected by the carnage. On Wednesday, young children rode their bikes around streets blocked off for emergency vehicles, while others took pictures.
“We try to come after each attack to protest and make our voices heard,” Ya’akov Fauci said.
Fauci said he blamed the Israeli government for the attack because it had not sustained its measures to fight the Palestinian terrorist infrastructure.
In the wake of the bombing, the White House again postponed plans to unveil an American vision for Middle East peace.
“It’s obvious that the immediate aftermath is not the right time,” White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said. He said he believed that President Bush would make an address when “it can do the most good.”
“It’s hard to get people to focus on peace today when they’re still suffering from the consequences of terrorism as we speak,” Fleischer said.
A Palestinian Cabinet minister said Wednesday that postponing the speech would only “widen the cycle of violence.”
“It comes to reward the Israeli government, which slips out of peace commitments, and also rewards opponents of peace on the Palestinian side,” Ghassan al-Khatib said.
Tzvi Taz, a university student from New Jersey who was at the scene of the attack, said he believed the United States wants to support Israel but cannot do so for political reasons, including pressure from the European Union and Arab states.
“If America was doing what it thinks should be done, we wouldn’t be in this situation,” Taz said.