by Susan Heagy
You read about it on the news, see a headline or hear about it from someone. The impact is minimal as it takes place far away from you.
The Survivors talk about it and find the news quite disturbing. It brings back memories of their childhood in the Holocaust. They no longer feel safe in their own country- just like before.
“Why do they want to harm us? Did we not lose enough of our families already? Why must we fear for our grandchildren’s lives?”
When you live in Israel the impact is harsh. You know it could possibly happen closer to you, but still, you do not expect to be there when it goes down. But we were. Right after an attempted stabbing…
An hour before we had come through the Damascus Gate out of the Old City, taking pictures and sitting on the steps. We noticed soldiers in different areas, police covering most of the area, prepared for anything. But it seemed like a calm day and were not concerned.
We made our way to the Garden Tomb. It was crowded with tourists from buses and we took our time looking around. When we left we made our way back toward the Damascus Gate with the intention of retracing our steps.
As we approached we noticed many people walking towards us. One woman said, “Don’t go there. There has just been a shooting.”
About this time I noticed we were the only non-Israelis in the area. A young Arab woman approached me and we stood together talking about the incident. It was obvious she was nervous and wanted company. Our group was not together yet and we waited for everyone to meet up. She offered to escort us another way to return to Jaffa Gate.
While waiting a vendor shared his phone video showing the person who was shot. A teenage Arab girl had attacked the squad of IDF soldiers and police attempting to stab them. She was shot and killed.
Having just arrived at the scene we saw the police were in the process of taping off the area. Two policemen on horseback began patrolling the line. The crowd was growing now trying to see what was happening.
Suddenly I could see someone running away from the gate. IDF and police were chasing them down from different directions. They all fell together and a fight ensued to subdue the one tackled. I could feel the tension in the crowd increase and they began pushing against the police tape. The two mounted policemen charged the tape to hold them back and the crowd reversed their motion. Many people began running back towards us. We moved back a bit with the flow, but stopped short of a full reversal.
Now our group was all together and we began walking with the young Arab woman towards the New Gate of the Old City. As we walked away she began to speak to me more. I asked her name and about her family. She was a new mother and her husband had a shop in the Old City where they lived.
She asked where we were from. Upon hearing America she began speaking in a different manner.
“You who do not live here don’t understand how the Jewish police try to make sure we are hurt or injured. They use excessive force and try to kill us. Arabs are treated very badly in Israel. We need other countries to realize what is happening to us here.”
In between her political words she told how she had a new job, new house and was attending university. As she told of her opportunities to improve her life she complained about the country she lived in: Israel.
She then asked me where I lived. I told her Akko. She got quiet and asked me, “You live here in Israel?”
“Yes,” I answered.
She looked a bit unhappy and said,
“Forget everything I told you.” She moved quickly ahead, pointed to the direction we should take in the New Gate and walked away. We all thanked her and I thanked God for the encounter.
It is a difficult culture at times. The Jewish Israelis endure attacks. The Arab people living here are deliberately mislead with lies and misinformation. It is like a time bomb at times.
The rest of the time? It is a beautiful country of amazing people. The land is breathtaking, the history is rich and God’s anointing is on His People. May we all continue to pray for Israel.
“Pray for the shalom in Yerushalayim; may those who love you prosper.” Psalm 122:6 (Complete Jewish Bible)