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


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