Witnesses to the explosion try to reassure their loved ones

“All of my friends are now on Facebook asking me what’s up,” teen who was present at scene of Jerusalem terror attack says.

March 24, 2011 03:42
3 minute read.
SHIREL SHALLEM, 26, standing near her father, Eliy

Terror witnesses 311. (photo credit: Daniel K. Eisenbud)


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Dozens of men, women and children milled about in a state of shock shortly after witnessing an explosion across the street from the Jerusalem Central Bus Station on Wednesday afternoon, as police, IDF soldiers and paramedics struggled to maintain order amid the chaotic scene.

Cordoned off with red police tape, the site of the explosion was closely guarded by tense-looking uniformed and plainclothes officers armed with machine guns. At least two military helicopters hovered above, as ambulances and police cars raced to and from the site.

Many of the civilians were in tears; some were screaming.

Those not being comforted by police and medical responders were glued to their cell phones, presumably speaking to worried family and friends.

A father and daughter, Eliyahu and Shirel Shallem, said they were less than 20 meters from the explosion when it occurred around 3 p.m.

“I was on the corner near the bus stop looking for my wife when it happened,” said Shallem, age 53, his face still flushed red with alarm. “The force threw everybody off balance – to the ground. People were covered in blood.”

Shira Shallem, 26, was walking with her father on her way to work when the bomb went off.

“It exploded outside the bus stop and sent glass everywhere,” she said, sobbing. “I saw two bodies on the ground – everyone else was running.

There was so much blood. I just stood there crying.”

Mor Tsur-Ohayon, 24, a Hebrew University student from Mevasseret Zion, was on her way to her job as a cleaner when the chaos erupted. She wept as she called her family and friends to say she was not injured.

“My bus stopped in front of the station – I got off and heard a bomb and people started running to get into the bus station for safety,” she said. “The other half ran toward the explosion to help.”

Meni Somech, 18, a volunteer EMT, said he helped take one wounded man in his 20s to an ambulance.

“His upper-left thigh and lower stomach were punctured with glass, metal and stones,” Somech said. “He was bleeding and rushed by ambulance to the hospital.”

Tzury Cohen, 15, who lives in Kfar Maimon – roughly 25 kilometers from Gaza – said he had just gotten off a bus in front of the central bus station on his way to the Netiv Meir Yeshiva when he heard the explosion.

“I’m from Gaza – it sounded like a rocket that exploded 200 meters from my neighborhood,” he said.

“Everybody got into a panic, then I saw soldiers and lots of cops on motorbikes – two cops on a bike,” he said. “The first cops went to the explosion, and the rest made a barrier [around the crime scene].

I heard a girl scream to her friends that one of her parents was supposed to be on a bus where the bomb went off.”

He then looked at his smartphone.

“All of my friends are now on Facebook asking me what’s up,” he said, staring at the phone in disbelief.

Moments later, Cohen looked at his phone again, and realized he had five unanswered messages from his mother. He paused to finally contact her to say he was unharmed.

“I told her I heard the bomb, and she screamed ‘What?! What happened?! Are you hurt?,’” Cohen said. “I tried to reassure her.”

Meanwhile, paramedics not tending to the wounded cleaned trails of blood off the sidewalk.

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