A bomb exploded in the center of Jerusalem …

July 25, 2011 at 11:29 am Leave a comment

Eleven dead and 74 wounded

But who cares?

By Ralph Dobrin

Author of “How to Avoid Armageddon”

To order the book click: www.amazon.com   type: how to avoid Armageddon

“Bomb explodes in the center of Jerusalem (you could make that Tel Aviv, Haifa, Afula or and just about every other sizeable town or city in Israel). This is the kind of banner headline that has appeared hundreds of times during the last forty-four years on the front pages of Israeli newspapers. Accompanying sub-headings invariably announce a double-digit number of persons killed and another far larger number for the injured.

Gratifyingly, these outrages have become far less frequent in recent years. Those lucky enough never to have been hurt or close to such bombings, tend to forget how it used to be. Actually, they  have never really known … of the unspeakable horror; the thunderous blast splattering limbs, viscera, heads and chunks of burnt human flesh in different directions for hundreds of feet, immediately followed by a moment of stunned silence. Then the hysterical screams, the sobbing, wailing and groaning, and the sound of people stumbling on smashed glass and crushed mortar and slithering in pools of blood and guts, and the reeking stench of grilled meat.

Because it’s been such a regular occurrence in this country, Israel is supremely adept at clearing up the results of the blast. Within hours the ambulances remove all the dead and injured to hospitals, while, members of Zaka, a volunteer group that works to maximize the sanctity of each victim by ensuring that no one’s body parts are left on the scene, move in and somberly scrape up gory items from the road, pavement, walls and even branches of trees. Cleaning crews arrive with buckets, brooms, brushes and hose pipes. Glaziers refit shattered windows. Construction crews rebuild cratered tarmac and cracked walls. Police keep the crowds away and begin their search for the perpetrators, often still on the scene in the form of mangled remnants.

The dead are soon buried and mourned by their loved ones, year after year. For some the pain fades somewhat as life goes on; for others the memory of the missing loved-one keeps hurting as much as ever, even years and decades later.

However, within a few days, after the endless reports covering every known and assumed detail in connection with the terrorists and some of the dead, the media and the public quickly focus on other issues and the outrage is all but forgotten. It becomes yet another set of cold statistics. Date, time and place, number of dead, number of wounded, cost of the damage.

But statistics don’t deal with the survivors and their families. For many of these people, the blast is just the beginning of an unending nightmare.

Let’s take the case of Atsede (not her real name). The year is 1996 (just three years after the signing of the Peace Accords between Israel and the Arabs of Palestine). Peace is supposed to be in the air and Atsede is getting on a Number 18 bus near Jerusalem’s Central Bus Station. She’s 29 years old and she immigrated from Ethiopia five years earlier. She’s married and has three small children. Her husband works in a printing firm and she recently opened a dress shop near the market. Atsede has always loved pretty things. She’s a tall, very beautiful woman, who smiles easily. The bus is fairly full as she gets on, greeting an acquaintance who is sitting in one of the front seats, and pays the driver. A few more people get on after her. Just as the driver is about to close the door, a pleasant-looking, clean-shaven young man wearing a thick coat, gets on. He smiles at the driver and pays for a ticket. The bus pulls off slowly, easing into the heavy traffic of downtown Jerusalem.

Then suddenly the young man yells, “Allah Hua Akbar”, which is Arabic for God is Great. He pulls at the switch of a detonator in his coat pocket and …  

Atsede wakes up five weeks later. It takes her another three days to understand where she is and what happened to her. Pain-wracked body, foggy minded, she begins to recognize people. A man sitting by her bed – oh yes, it’s her husband. A woman comes into view – her older sister. At first Atsede can’t move at all or talk, but after a while, she is able to raise her head and mumble a few words. She still doesn’t know that she’s had five operations to remove shrapnel and sew up shredded organs and amputate a leg above the knee.

From the time of the signing of the peace accords in 1993 between Israel and the Palestine Arabs, headed by Yasser Arafat, there have been 168 suicide attacks until the time of this writing (July 2011) with 39 in Jerusalem alone. There are periods when bombings occur every single day. There would have been many more, but Israel’s security forces – the army, police and various intelligence agencies are working around the clock to stop additional bombings. Despite the anxiety entailed in simply getting onto a bus, walking in the street or entering a shop or restaurant, Israel’s citizens go about their daily routines like always. But everyone is wary. The bombings take place wherever there are crowds of people – even at schools and wedding halls. Bombings are even attempted in Israeli hospitals.

Meanwhile, Atsede is suffering from constant pain, discomfort, fear about her future, disappointment at not being able to fulfill personal ambitions and horror at losing a leg and having a scarred face. She is not alone in her predicament. Many victims of terror attacks are even more badly mangled. But very few people know about her or any of the other survivors. No one cares about her, apart from family – and for a while close friends – and of course the medical staff treating her and social workers with overloaded case schedules.

Names of the fatal victims are always dutifully printed in the newspapers and featured on TV. And then they are forgotten. It’s impossible for even the most concerned person to keep remembering ever more dead victims. Survivors, like Atsede, are seldom if ever, mentioned in name.

Reports in the media seldom say anything about lost limbs and permanently malfunctioning organs. They say nothing about the blast that keeps echoing in the victims’ minds; about the recurring, awful visions of fiery red in their minds; the sleepless nights; the pieces of shrapnel still embedded in bodies and in many cases causing permanent pain. They say nothing of jettisoned ambitions and ruined careers; nothing of families broken asunder. There’s simply a limit to what the media can convey.

Today, fifteen years later, there is still a hint that Atsede had once been a handsome woman; she gets around on her artificial leg, limping slightly. Her face is scarred in half a dozen little craters, and while presentable, has little of its former Abyssinian beauty. There are still dozens of tiny pieces of shrapnel embedded throughout her body. The terrorists prepared their bombs with the aim to wreak maximum damage on the victims. Iron filings, tiny ball bearings, nuts and bolts were included with malicious intent. So Atsede needs to take pain killers every day and night, perhaps for the rest of her life. Her ear drums were damaged  in the blast, leaving her hearing seriously impaired.

She lost her husband, too. A devoted man at the time of the blast, he didn’t want for the rest of his life, to look after a woman in pain much of the time, unable to prepare his meals as before or keep the house properly cleaned, or indulge him at night. One day, about a year after the blast, he slinked away to another town, broke off all contact with Atsede and their children and remarried. Atsede moved in with her older sister who helped raise her three children. In the few years she had lived in Israel before the blast, she had learned to speak and read Hebrew quite well, but since the blast much of what she had learned, has been forgotten and she despairs of ever being able to learn Hebrew properly. “My mind is fuzzy all the time,” she says. “Since the blast, I forget things and I just can’t learn anything new.” Also, her ambitions to once again open a dress shop in Jerusalem will probably never be realized. From time to time she finds some work as a seamstress, but she is unable to concentrate for any prolonged period or sit on a chair for more than a few minutes at a time. She will probably never remarry, dance or go for a pleasant stroll with her children and grandchildren.

Atsede and other terror victims like her are all but forgotten by society. They exist among us but we do not know who they are, or that they are people for whom life took a tragic turn in one moment of satanic evil. But Atsede still retains one thing from the time before the bombing. She still smiles readily. It’s probably an old habit from a time when life was very good to her. Clearly, those days are over for her – for ever. Like for most of the other survivors of terror attacks. They should be regarded as among the many unsung heroes of Israel. 

To order “How to avoid Armageddon” click: www.amazon.com  type: how to avoid Armageddon

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Entry filed under: Blogroll, dangeous lies and halftruths, How to avoid Armageddon, Things not mentioned in the press. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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