‘The smell is still in my nose from other terror attacks'

For United Hatzalah director, Binyanei Ha’uma blast brings back memories of other bus bombings.

Eli Beer 311 (photo credit: MELANIE LIDMAN)
Eli Beer 311
(photo credit: MELANIE LIDMAN)
“It reminds you of everything that happened,” said United Hatzalah director Eli Beer as he looked around at the scene of Wednesday’s terrorist attack, which killed one person and wounded 39.
“When I smelled that smell of burnt meat… I wasn’t ready for it. It was quiet for so long, I just wasn’t ready for it… The smell is still in my nose from the other terrorist attacks.”
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Beer, who oversees the volunteer emergency first responder organization, was outside of the United Hatzalah offices less than a kilometer away when he heard the explosion.
“When I heard it I was sure there would be dozens of people killed,” he said.
Beer was on the scene within a minute of the explosion.
“I didn’t see smoke, there wasn’t smoke like we’re used to, but there was that terrible smell of fire and burnt meat.
It reminded me of the terrible days at the height the terrorist attacks.”
Still, Beer said they were “lucky” the attack took place at the city entrance, where the wide roads gave emergency vehicles plenty of space to maneuver.
Dozens of ambulances, police vehicles, fire trucks, and other emergency personal were on the scene within 10 minutes. The wounded were immediately evacuated to hospitals across Jerusalem.
“I worked on the elderly woman [who later died], I tried to give her CPR, but she wasn’t breathing. She was really wounded severely.
“I thought to myself that she probably won’t survive. I shouted to the paramedics to help me, but they were helping another person who was seriously wounded,” he said.
Though Beer noted that while this attack was smaller than the bus bombings during the second intifada, the long period between them had lulled Israelis, even emergency workers, into a false sense of security.
“People are sleeping now,” he said.
The terror attack also brought back the bittersweet sense of fraternity among emergency workers that was also prevalent during the second intifada.
“I saw many people who had responded to other terrorist attacks, there was one man I saw that I realized I hadn’t seen since the terrorist attack in Ben Yehuda [in 2001, which killed 11 and wounded 188],” he said.
“The nation of Israel suddenly comes together in situations like this and everyone wants to help everyone else.”
United Hatzalah had planned a large exercise for their volunteers on Wednesday, which was cancelled after the bombing. Over 80 Hatzalah volunteers responded to the attack, and more were turned away after it was determined that the bombing caused fewer casualties than originally thought.