A woman sits with her dog after being questioned by police at the scene of a shooting incident in Tel Aviv.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The deep gray of the clouds casting a gloomy shadow over Tel Aviv match the mood on Dizengoff Street, where store-owners are trying to digest the weekend’s horrible events and get back to business.
Two days after a gunman emerged from the Anise grocery store and began firing, killing two and injuring eight, the shattered windows are already being replaced, the restaurants tables are set, and the shop doors are open.
Some managers had to calm their employees’ nerves before opening shop.
“At the beginning they were a little afraid, but then they came, like grown-ups, and survived it and they’re fine,” says Maytal, the branch manager of Anise.
The only thing that’s missing is customers.
“The street was rather empty today. The atmosphere is bad. The mood is down. Heartache,” says Lihi Rosenberg, who sells Swiss sewing machines at her store Bernina a few doors down from where the shooting took place.
Asaf Ben-Ezra, who owns the sandwich restaurant Meatpack across the street from Simta, the bar that took the brunt of the gunfire, says business has taken a plunge, but is hopeful the dip won’t last long.
“I would very much like to hope that the short Israeli memory will function this time as well, and we won’t experience what Dizengoff experienced in the ’90s,” he says.
While some store-owners say business hasn’t been particularly affected, and others foresee at the very least a dip in sales for a week, they agree on one thing: the rain is a factor at least as important in deterring customers as the terrorist attack.
“Let’s say that 80 percent is from the rain, 20 percent from the terrorism,” says Ben Kaplan, whose restaurant Japanika was hit by bullet fire.
Aviva Kuran, a salesperson at a clothing boutique called Tanti Becky concurs. “This is sort of a typical rainy day. It’s hard to separate what’s from what happened on Friday versus it just raining a lot, because no one wants to be out in the rain, walking and shopping,” she says.
If the foul weather weren’t enough, store-owners had another unpleasant hit to their businesses Saturday in the form of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who came to express solidarity, but also closed down the streets for security.
“They closed the whole place. There wasn’t a person here, just security, the prime minister and [Public Security Minister Gilad] Erdan, and they didn’t come to eat. They came to do politics,” says Ben-Ezra.
Outside the shuttered Simta bar, a small crowd gathers to light candles and commemorate the victims.
On the side is a wreath with a message that reads, “The show must go on.” It is signed Mike’s Place, the bar that was attacked by suicide bombers in 2003, but has since grown into a prosperous chain.
“We feel a very close connection. What we wrote, ‘The show must go on,’ has been our motto,” says Dave Beck, a co-owner of Mike’s Place. “We really just wanted to send the message that if you don’t continue, they win, and that would be wrong.”
Barring continued attacks, bad weather, and another Netanyahu visit, the local store-owners seem to agree.