Ahead of cease-fire, a reminder of the 2nd Intifada

Reporter's Notebook: Terrorist bombing of TA bus was a painful reminder of our fragile sense of security.

Far shot of Tel Aviv terror attack on bus 370 (photo credit: Nir Elias/Reuters)
Far shot of Tel Aviv terror attack on bus 370
(photo credit: Nir Elias/Reuters)
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 violence.
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.