The Third Target

According to Israel National News, Israel’s intelligence agencies and security forces nabbed a terrorist cell operating in East Jerusalem – that’s a politically correct way of saying Arabs.

So, as I read an article detailing what the terror cell had planned, I could feel my heart coming to a complete standstill. Yes, that’s figuratively speaking…at least mostly.

From other sources, I had heard there were two potential targets…turns out, there were three. Three targets…and I’ve been in each…

The first was Binyan HaUma – the International Convention Center in Jerusalem. I have hosted four of our eight annual conferences (MEGAComm) there in the last decade bringing hundreds of hi-tech professionals from all over Israel and international guests from the United States, England, and Belgium. I have attended perhaps a dozen weddings there and twice attended The President’s Conference. Thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of people could be there on any given day. I have a neighbor who works there daily; the bus to Maale Adumim starts from right outside. It is roughly the equivalent of Madison Square Gardens, if you are familiar with New York City, the Louvre for Paris. It’s simply huge. You know how sometimes you joke something off even though it is very serious. I did that yesterday when I wrote – good thing we scheduled the upcoming MEGAComm conference at the Ramada Renaissance Hotel this year. It was a joke – the potential of the tragedy pushed aside simply by my inability to grasp the possibility. Guards are there at the entrances and during huge events, metal detectors and additional security is brought in.

The second target was the US Embassy in Tel Aviv – I have been there too. It is beautifully situated very close to the Mediterranean Sea, a fortress of security. You can’t even take your phone in there. To visit is to go radio-silent and the security to enter is incredibly impressive. I can’t imagine how these terrorists thought they’d be able to penetrate it but certainly catching them before the attack is better than after. We don’t want a Benghazi here…though of course, that wouldn’t happen because unlike what happened in Libya, the host country’s armed forces, our army and police, would have worked to save the Americans and any mob outside would be doing the same, not burning American flags. Nevertheless, that joker in me got me to post asking Obama to thank us.

So, overall as a philosophy of life, I go with the theory that it is better to laugh than to cry; better to shake off fear and live for the day. I did that yesterday with the first two attack targets because they are so far-fetched, so out of this world that I can’t see how they would succeed. No images of tragedy fill my mind – just a void buffered by disbelief…yeah, no. They would never have succeeded. Both places are secured and ready for such an attack.

The third target stopped my heart for two reasons – first, because the third target was me and so much of what I love in this world. Second, because I can see part of it happening. From the moment I heard about it, my mind has filled with the images of it happening…

Israel National News report: According to the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), one of the plans was to carry out a suicide attack on a bus traveling from Jerusalem to Maaleh Adumim.

That attack would have involved firing at the bus’s tires first, in order to cause it to overturn. Then the terrorist was to murder the bus’s occupants at close range and await rescue forces, whom he would also fire at.

On any given day – at least two of my children are taking these buses; both my daughters-in-law, my son-in-law travel this route daily. Some days, three and even four of my children are taking these buses, sometimes Lazer, sometimes me. Even Aliza, at 14 has been known to go into Jerusalem and return on the buses with friends.

In a broader picture, hundreds and even thousands of my friends and neighbors ride the buses. They come regularly, stop in convenient places…buses in Israel are an essential and fundamental means of transportation for the majority of people who live in Israel, and Maale Adumim is no different.

My first thought was that of all the targets, this would have been the most difficult to defend against. We do have buses to some places that are bullet proof – currently, the Maale Adumim buses are not. I’m not giving any secrets away here – you can easily tell which buses are protected and which are not.

I’ve walked around today, several times coming to tears at the thought of terrorists targeting any bus in Israel, but yes, “my” buses too. I’ve always had an excellent imagination – it’s why I don’t watch horror movies. I can see the bus traveling; I can imagine the tires being shot out there in the open. I’ve watched it in my mind, swerve into the divider and come to a stop, only to be fired upon. The images keep coming in my mind.

I told Amira about the third target and there were tears in my eyes. How amazing it is to have a daughter so filled with what we call emunah – faith. “It will be okay,” she assured me with a hug.

The fact is, we have amazing intelligence agencies – they caught them before the attack, remember? It didn’t happen. It could have, but it didn’t. I was holding on to that thought…trying to find comfort in it, when I spoke to Elie, he too had not heard of the third target. His response came from the soldier, “that’s why there are people carrying guns.”

Reality – the chances of gunman shooting out the tires is there. Yes, they might succeed. But there are several additional factors – first the buses all have double tires – 8 instead of 4. Yes, terrorists could shoot out the tires on a bus…but most likely, the bus could continue – the scenario of my mind – the stopped bus being shelled mercilessly is just not realistic.

And another reality in Israel, almost always, there are people on board – like Elie – who are armed. As others would drop to the floor at the first warning that there was trouble, the armed and trained among them would rush to defend.

And as I begin to think with my brain, my heart begins to fight back. How stupid do these terrorists think our rescue forces are? Do they really think they would rush in without anticipating that the attackers were hoping to kill others? Do they expect those on the bus to just sit there and not do all they can to get away?

I like Amira’s reaction…I like Elie’s reaction.

I’ll find my calm and push the image, Hollywood like, of a bus careening off to disaster after its tires have been shot out away – the bus would never stop, those on board would be protected. Within minutes, the army would swarm in….surround, disarm, capture or kill the attackers.

For all their glorious planning, they didn’t even manage to get out the front door. Stopped in the tracks before they even got to pointing a weapon…not at the largest gathering point in Jerusalem, not at the US Embassy in Tel Aviv, and not at the buses that travel to and from my home daily.

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