The bomb that blew up a Tel Aviv bus on Wednesday morning came amid another
breakneck day covering Operation Pillar of Defense from the Israeli home front,
which for Israeli journalists began several days before an Israeli air strike
killed Izzadin Kassam commander Ahmed Jabari last week, after several days of
heavy rocket and mortar fire on the South.
The bombing also came the
morning after a long-range rocket hit a Rishon Lezion apartment tower, the first
successful strike on central Israel by Hamas in the recent round of hostilities
and an event that appeared to be a game-changer in the recent conflict. By
Wednesday, there was a new first for this round of hostilities, when
unidentified assailants blew up a bus in Tel Aviv in the first bombing in the
city since 2006.
Though there were no fatalities, the initial feeling on
the minds of many was that the suicide bombings of the second intifada of 2000
to 2005 had returned, if at least for the duration of the current
For those of us who lived in Israel during the suicide bombings
or, as in my case, moved here during the second intifada, the emotions and the
sights and sounds on Wednesday were painfully familiar: police sirens and
roadblocks, frantic phone calls to loved ones even as the cellular phone system
crashed, and an avalanche of rumors about other bombers on the loose waiting to
carry out a second strike.
There was even, at least for myself, the
feeling that a large IDF ground operation in Gaza could be inevitable, something
along the lines of 2002’s Operation Defensive Shield in the West Bank, with a
string of army funerals sure to follow. In the end, the terror attack was
followed by reports of a ceasefire, and at least on the surface the explosion
seemed like a one-off event.
Israel before and after the second intifada
are two different countries, and those of us who have lived in both tend to
forget how much our lives have changed since then, how much we have taken our
feelings of security for granted as the country has thrived and the fear of
those dark days was a nightmare long past.
For a couple of hours on
Wednesday afternoon in Tel Aviv, 2002 seemed like yesterday, a painful reminder
of how fragile our sense of security can be.