Northern border tensions make Jerusalemites feel like ‘war is in the air’

“I have a lot of faith in God and of course in the army — we will be okay, whatever happens, war or no war..." said 88-year-old Esther.

May 10, 2018 16:32
3 minute read.
Northern border tensions make Jerusalemites feel like ‘war is in the air’

A general view of Jerusalem's old city shows the Dome of the Rock in the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount, October 25, 2015. (photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)


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Wednesday night’s rocket barrage from Iranian forces in Syria – and Israel’s subsequent retaliation – were on everyone lips across Jerusalem on Thursday.

Commuters on buses, trams and pedestrians were seen stopping and engaging about whether or not Israel was about to go to war with Iran.

An Israeli citizen reacts after Israel hits dozens of Iranian targets in Syria, May 10, 2018 (Reuters)For 88-year-old Esther, who sat on the bus with her oxygen tank and her caregiver, said she’d been through The War of Independence, the Six Day War, the Yom Kippur War and “every other war or conflict you can think of.”

“I’m not afraid – I’m too old to be afraid – but there is a feeling in the air like there was before the big wars happened… I worry for my children and especially my grandchildren – one is in the army now,” she told The Jerusalem Post.

“I have a lot of faith in God and of course in the army – we will be okay, whatever happens, war or no war… I do think there will be a war soon with Iran,” she said.

A man on the bus, who overheard the conversation, said he isn’t afraid at all. “If it was ‘67 or ‘73, I would be more afraid, but we have good technology and a strong army,” he said. “The fact that 20 missiles were sent at us – 20 – and none of them hit Israel and most were intercepted – is incredible. Our army is strong and we have a lot of power – it’s our enemies who should be afraid.”

Penina Cohen, a 57-year-old mother of six, said that although the situation is not ideal and “is not easy, we have to hope for the best.”

“We’re human and to feel fear is normal – it’s a normal reaction. But we are not in the midst of war yet... I think last night [Wednesday] was the worst of it. I got a text from the house committee in our building here in Jerusalem, to clear our bomb shelters [safe rooms] and keep them open – but I’m not expecting war just yet.”

A young girl added that she was a bit worried she would hear red alert sirens in Jerusalem, but was glad she had slept through the night and that the “IDF [is] protecting us.”

A 19-year-old IDF soldier, who asked to remain anonymous, said several of his friends who had been originally stationed in the North were called up on Tuesday night. “Look, it’s worrying. We haven’t seen such attacks from our neighbors in a long, long time. Will there be a war? I don’t know. The tension is there, but it might die down. Personally, I’m not afraid,” he said.

“The entire world isn’t safe; everywhere in the world has dangers and threats, not just Israel. You look at Asia, you look at Africa, the America’s, they all have problems – guns in the US are a problem, terrorism, disease, and dictatorships in Africa and Asia. Europe has a refugee and migrant problem… Israel is not unique in the dangers we are facing,” he said.

Asked if it’s different because Israel is small and surrounded by hostility, he said: “I do think if war breaks out with Iran, Egypt and Jordan won’t stay neutral… We are not a loved nation – the media has made that clear. The terrorists – like Iran – want us all dead; maybe that is what makes the situation more unique.”

Most Jerusalem residents who spoke to the Post said they would keep their bomb shelters or safe rooms accessible just in case – but for now their worries are minimal.

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