Reporter’s Notebook: Sending your kids to school amid hunt for an armed gunman

My phone started buzzing with countless text messages from parents in my son’s preschool WhatsApp group. It seemed most of the parents were facing the same dilemma.

By
January 4, 2016 03:06
3 minute read.
Israeli border police guards secure near the scene of a shooting incident in Tel Aviv

Israeli border police guards secure near the scene of a shooting incident in Tel Aviv. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

Here is a dilemma: The perpetrator of a fatal shooting is said to be hiding in your neighborhood.

He is said to be armed and a major item belonging to him was found in one of the houses in the area (presumably, his cellphone).

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


Heavy security is scouring the area.

Do you send your child to school or do you “let the terrorists win?” While this sounds like a movie plot, this, unfortunately, is the reality that my husband and I, and countless parents throughout northern Tel Aviv, awoke to on Sunday morning.

It had been nearly 48 hours since the gunman, named on Saturday as Nashat Milhem, killed two people in the shooting in central Tel Aviv and eluded police.

Rumors of his whereabouts spread quickly, with most news outlets reporting that he escaped to a neighborhood in northern Tel Aviv – my neighborhood. Oh, and he is believed to still be armed with the submachine gun he allegedly used in the attack! I sat glued to the TV and Internet news sites on Saturday night waiting to hear if police, who were conducting sweeps of the area, had managed to apprehend him.

At 2 a.m. I gave up and went to bed.



The first thing I did when I woke up at 6 a.m. was check the news to see if there was any update. My heart sank when I saw the same headlines as I did the night before – the suspect was at large.

“What should we do?” I asked my husband, “Do we send him to preschool?” “I think we should,” he replied. “But let’s wait just a bit and see.”

It wasn’t long after that my phone started buzzing with text messages from parents in my son’s preschool WhatsApp group. It seemed most of the parents were facing the same dilemma.

One mother notified the group that she had heard through a friend of a neighbor that the gunman worked in a small grocery store in the old Ramat Aviv neighborhood and that he was most likely hiding somewhere nearby.

Soon after came another text that it wasn’t a store in the old Ramat Aviv neighborhood, but rather in Ramat Aviv Gimel, or maybe it wasn’t a grocery store at all but rather he worked at a construction site in the neighborhood.

As the rumor mill swirled, parents seemed reluctant to decide whether to send their children to school. Everyone was in agreement that the situation was scary.

In the end, my husband and I decided that I would drive our son to school and “check it out.” If it didn’t “feel right,” I would bring him back home.

I don’t know why, but I was half expecting to see patrol cars and dozens of armed guards standing outside the school when I pulled into the street.

I was very disappointed to find that the school’s usual security guard – a young girl – was standing outside greeting parents as usual.

I approached and asked her if everything was okay – she just laughed and said, “Don’t worry, it’ll be fine” – in typical Israeli fashion.

My heart sank again when I walked into the classroom – there was only a handful of children there – and the teacher’s assistant looked like she wanted to be anywhere else on earth but there.

I almost grabbed my son and left at that very moment, but then his teacher approached me with a smile.

“Don’t worry, I know the situation is frightening, but we are all here and we’ll stay inside with the door locked and try to have a regular day.”

Add to that the fact that my son was beaming with excitement at arriving at school and had already run off to play with his few friends who had showed up.

After a quick phone consultation with my husband, we decided to leave him in class.

“He’s probably safer here with the security guards than at home,” we consoled ourselves.

Only after dropping off my son did I notice two undercover policemen patrolling the area and a second guard stationed at the school.

This made me feel slightly better.

In the end I chose to pick up my son early from school, and as I drove home I noticed seven police cars – sirens blaring – heading in the direction of a construction site nearby.

The decision to send my son to school was the right one. I hope we won’t have to face the same dilemma tomorrow.

Related Content

Rami Feinstein
August 18, 2018
Music from the heart

By ARIEL DOMINIQUE HENDELMAN