Thursday, April 14, 2011

Rise of Mid-East Violence Also Hits Israel: A Guest Post From the Scene

This Jerusalem bus stop turned deadly in recent days.

Robin writes: The turmoil in the Middle East has not entirely been about the aspirations of downtrodden people to be free.  It has also unleashed, in some places, the forces of evil, some bent on settling tribal blood feuds, and some on the destruction of Israel. This combination of chaos and the apparent lack of any U.S. peace policy, has led to growing terror in Israel, the region's only democracy.  American Dr. Perry Klein--a former viewer of mine in Florida--is working in Israel and filed this guest post.

Random Violence and Random Fear
Perry Klein
Violence is escalating in Israel. Thirty-two days ago, the Fogel family--Udi, Ruth and their three children--were all stabbed to death in their home in Itamar, an Israeli settlement on the West Bank. 

It happened on a Friday night, while they slept.  The children had their throat's cut.  One of them was a three-month-old baby girl.  A cell of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade claimed responsibility.

Then, two weeks ago, at a busy bus stop at the entrance of Jerusalem--a bus stop my family has used many times--a terrorist placed a bomb inside a bag which exploded among the waiting crowd. The blast killed a woman who happened to be an American citizen, visiting Israel for the first time.  Dozens of people, men women, and children, were injured during the busy rush hour.

It’s important to understand that these bombs are filled with tiny pieces of shrapnel and metal that are designed to maim.  So when the newspapers say that people are “injured” in such an incident, they mean that limbs are lost and people are horribly disfigured.  Since these incidents, there has been an escalation in terrorist attacks on the part of Hamas, and strong military retaliation by Israel.

The latest tragedy took place last Thursday, when Hamas operatives targeted a school bus full of children in south Israel, which happened to be traveling on a road used only by civilians.  The school children had just gotten off the bus, when an anti-tank missile struck the vehicle.  It was a direct hit, which blew the bus into pieces, critically injuring a sixteen year old, and wounding the driver.

Here is what the newspaper does not tell you:  The teenager's name is Daniel Aryeh, and he was hitching a ride with the bus driver to see his grandmother who lives in that town.  Daniel lives down the road from me, and his family owns the local Chinese takeout restaurant in Ramat Beit Shemesh, where we live. 

Now, there are daily prayer vigils across the street from my apartment with huge crowds gathering to recite from the Book of Psalms.  Also across the street from my apartment, is the place where I wait with my three children to catch their van to go to school.  My oldest will be eight this June, and my youngest turned four in January.

I have offered to treat the Aryeh family free of charge for psychological trauma.  It is part of the reason that I am here now--to train Israeli citizens on how to deal with the traumas around them in a country in which violence is so frequent and devastating. The family has not responded to my offer, probably because they are so busy at the hospital bedside of their son, who still clings to life.∗

Not much is certain right now in Israel: but I can tell you a couple of things that are.  I am much more wary of taking public transportation. And, every parent--including me--is holding his children a little closer nowadays, as we busily prepare for the Passover holiday.

Perry Klein

Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel

Dawn in Jerusalem can look deceptively peaceful. (Photo by Robin Chapman©2000)

*Sixteen year old Daniel Viflic died in hospital Sunday, April 17, 2011 of his injuries.

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