Jerusalem residents afraid but stoic after attack

"I feel like an attack could happen at any moment," says one Israeli woman at site of deadly terrorist attack; "I won’t let the terrorists terrorize me," says another.

Jerusalem residents waiting at light rail stop at Ammunition Hill, October 23, 2014. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Jerusalem residents waiting at light rail stop at Ammunition Hill, October 23, 2014.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
As a police helicopter hovered above the site of Wednesday evening’s deadly terrorist attack at Jerusalem’s Ammunition Hill light rail stop, residents of the capital on Thursday expressed a mixture of fear and stoicism, with many drawing comparisons to the second intifada.
“The last time I felt this way was 10 years ago,” said Ronit Yazan, a Ma’ale Adumim resident, who uses the train stop daily to get to and from work downtown. “I feel fear not only here, but everywhere in Jerusalem. They [Arabs] are around us all the time – on the bus, the train, in the streets.”
Yazan then paused to look over her shoulder.
“It feels 100 percent that an attack could happen at any moment,” she said. “I need to come here every day, and now I have to look behind my back for them [Arabs].”
Or Dahan, of Pisgat Ze’ev, who also uses the light rail stop daily, said she is so exacerbated by the violence that has engulfed the city since June that she intends to leave the country permanently.
“I am very nervous, and because of this I will move from Israel,” she said. “It is not possible to live here anymore because we are under attack. I served for three years in the IDF but feel like I can’t live my life normally here anymore.”
Dahan, whose mother drives her every morning to the Ammunition Hill stop to avoid chronic Arab rock attacks at the Shuafat stop, added that she has lost her faith in the police.
“I’m afraid,” she said. “I don’t trust them to do the work necessary to protect us.”
However, Yosef Birnbaum, a yeshiva student from Baltimore who moved to the capital six weeks ago, said the police have made him feel “completely safe.”
“I’m not really nervous because I feel that the police have it under control,” he said. “Whenever something like [Wednesday’s terrorist attack] happens, you feel more united as a nation. You always have to be careful, but I’m not leaving.”
Asked how she feels following the terrorist attack, Yarden Oshri, originally from Netanya, expressed incredulity and fear.  
“In my city this does not happen often and I’m not experienced with this, so this is new for me,” she said. “Now I need to pay attention to everything to see if something might happen and I’m afraid.”
Nonetheless, Oshri’s friend, Gila Blum, a 19-year-old lifelong Jerusalem resident, said she had no fear, and refused to cower to Arab extremists.
“I’m not afraid because I’m from here and we’re used to it, but it has to stop,” she said. “I won’t let the terrorists terrorize me. We can’t stop our lives because we won’t stop living in Jerusalem – it’s our home.”
Moreover, Blum praised the police for its handling of a definitively volatile situation.
“I think they are doing enough when the attacks take place, but they can’t predict every time something happens,” she said.
Meanwhile, as his bus arrived at an adjacent bus stop, an elderly sabre man smiled when asked how the ongoing violence and Wednesday’s deadly terrorist attack have affected him.
“I feel very good because this is my country and I’m not afraid of anything,” he said. “Am Yisrael Chai!”