'A man was coming down the road in a tractor, killing people'

tractor attack3  224.88 (photo credit: Channel 2)
tractor attack3 224.88
(photo credit: Channel 2)
When his bus was grazed by a bulldozer on Jaffa Road on Wednesday, Egged driver Asaf Nadav expected the offending vehicle to stop and change lanes. Instead, it rammed into the side of the bus, knocking it over and wounding many of its passengers. "I was in a traffic jam on Jaffa, and I heard people yelling and running in the market," said Nadav, who has driven a bus for 12 years. He was speaking at Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Kerem, where he is recovering from back injuries. "I didn't know what was going on. Then the tractor turned and flipped the bus. Then the passengers broke the back door and it came off." Nadav is one of at least 55 lightly wounded victims of the attack, which also claimed three dead, one seriously wounded victim and one moderately wounded. Bloody bodies were rushed from the scene on stretchers as bystanders milled around in shock, stepping over a body bag near the sidewalk. Around noon, Husam Taysir Dwayat, a 30-year-old construction worker from the southeast Jerusalem neighborhood of Sur Bahir, drove his bulldozer from a Light Rail work site near the Central Bus Station down Rehov Sarei Yisrael on to Jaffa Road, destroying everything in his path. Moments later, a soldier in civilian clothing climbed aboard and struggled with the terrorist. Off-duty police anti-terror unit officer Eli Mizrahi joined in, and they shot Dwayat dead. "He came from over there," one woman said, pointing toward Rehov Sarei Yisrael as she sat shaking in the lobby of an apartment building while a medic took her pulse. "He turned the corner, started hitting cars, people, and then he flipped over the bus. Someone told me to go into the bank, because a man was coming down the road in a tractor, killing people." Another eyewitness, whose shop is across the street from the new Israel Broadcasting Authority building, said he came out to see what was causing the commotion and saw a bulldozer barrelling down the street. "I couldn't believe it," the man said, looking at the ground. "I saw his face, it's impossible to imagine what he looked like. He had the look of murder in his eyes." Across the street, the bulldozer stood motionless as a horde of journalists and onlookers pushed at red police tape to get a better look. Dwayat's lifeless body lay nearby, as Zaka rescue and recovery volunteers rushed to cover his bloody face with a sheet. Nadav said, "I was never scared. I always thought something would happen at the bus stops, and I would be suspicious of people coming into the bus. I never thought a tractor would come and flip me. I'm still in shock." Esther Shavit, 18, who was riding in the back of the bus, was one of the first to exit after the back door was broken. "We heard noise outside, but we didn't see the tractor," Shavit said. "Then, suddenly, the bus turned over and people were falling all over each other. Somebody got the back door open and we got out." Bat-El Ganen was on a second Egged bus, No. 13, which overturned when the bulldozer slammed into it, spoke to reporters as she emerged, in her hospital gown, into the lobby of the Shaare Tzedek Medical Center's emergency room. "I fell on my back. I just thought about how to get out, and it seemed like forever, but finally someone came and smashed out the back window, and we were able to crawl out from there." Ganen said they were afraid that the bus's gas tank would explode. "Nobody knew what had happened," she said. "The bus just flipped over." Ayamll Dennis, an older woman who was also on bus No. 13, was keening quietly in pain in her bed at Hadassah University Hospital on Wednesday afternoon. Dennis told The Jerusalem Post that she didn't remember much from the accident. "I just know that we flipped over and that the bus was shaking," she said. "My side hurts and my wrist hurts," she continued, clutching her wrist as her bracelets clinked together. This was not Dennis's first terrorist attack, she told reporters as she shook underneath her many blankets. She was also at a shooting in the city's Mahane Yehudah market nearly nine years ago. Her daughter was on her way to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv when she heard of Wednesday's terrorist attack, but didn't know Dennis was on the overturned bus until she called to check on her. "I don't know if I can take the life here," her daughter said. "I was born here, but this was her second time." In another part of Hadassah's emergency wing, a mother worried over her daughter, who was at the scene of the attack. "I was at work when my daughter called me," Bracha Arad said. "She saw the tractors and the buses. I think it's terrible that she had to go to the Central Bus Station today, but this is life in Israel, and that's how it is." Stephanie Rubenstein contributed to this report.