The fear within
Every passer-by is a suspect and danger lurks on every corner
THE SIRENS began around 7.45pm. The helicopters came later, along with a flood of frenzied WhatsApp messages — “stay indoors, one terrorist still on the loose”.
A stabbing. This time on my doorstep, not five minutes outside Pardes Chana, the town where I live in central Israel. I know the bus stop where the attack took place. It’s where I collect my husband after work. And, just like that, the fear builds. Last summer’s Gaza conflict, with its rockets and sirens and bomb-shelter runs, reminded me that we are all potential targets. That we will possibly always be entangled in conflict.
That’s not new. But the prickling fear, the suspicious sideways glances at our neighbours, our co-workers, our supermarket checkout ladies — that is new.
It is new and it is uncomfortable. It is ugly and all-consuming. People are agitated and angry, feeling powerless to prevent these random attacks. There are some brave souls touting slogans — “carry on as normal, don’t let them defeat us!”, whatever that means — but like many others, I am nervous.
I am nervous on my morning commute to work when I scan the
motorway for suspicious parked cars at the side of the road. I am nervous standing in a crowded train station, waiting to buy a ticket. I am so nervous that I haven’t taken my toddler to the playground, or to shopping centres or anywhere my imagination gets the best of me and I imagine someone pulling out a knife on us.
I am so nervous that, despite living in a very safe apartment building, with my husband away on miluim (reserve army duty) I had to stop myself from sleeping in my two-yearold’s bedroom and letting the fear take over and consume me entirely.
As older Israelis remind me, we havebeenthrough wor se . Sa b r a s endure. But I sense the smallest sliver of doubt, the slightest tremor, behind their attempts at comforting this young mother. This is closer, more random, more terrifying.
What do you do? Avoid the
Another day in Jerusalem: panic is sparked as a car slams into a bus stop