Israel: Bloggers Mourn Terrorism at Religious School

Terrorist Attack on Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva–

On Thursday, March 6, eight teenagers were killed and many more wounded in a terrorist attack on a Jerusalem religious school. The perpetrator was identified as a Palestinian from East Jerusalem in possession of an Israeli identity card. Sources say he posed as a student in order to enter the building.

The Jerusalem Post reports: “The 8:45 p.m. shooting at the yeshiva in the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood broke a two-year lull in terror in the capital and sent students scurrying for cover from a hail of gunfire – a reported 500-600 bullets – that lasted for several minutes.”

“The Mercaz Harav Yeshiva [where the attack occurred] is considered the leading national-religious yeshiva in Israel, with hundreds of elite students. Among its thousands of graduates are leading public figures including senior rabbis and IDF officers… [Rabbi David Stav states] “Mercaz Harav is the flagship of the entire religious Zionist movement. The terrorist targeted a place that symbolizes love for the land of Israel, love for the people of Israel and love for the Torah. No Jewish soul can remain indifferent to the horrible thought that a despicable terrorist attacked a group of young men who were busy studying the holy Torah.”

Remembering Those Lost–

Israeli bloggers ask us to remember the names of the victims:

  • Neria Cohen, 15
  • Segev Peniel Avichail, 15
  • Avraham David Moses, 16
  • Yehonatan Yitzhak Eldar, 16
  • Roi Rote, 18
  • Yohai Lifshitz, 18
  • Yonadav Haim Hershfeld, 19
  • Doron Mereta, 26

Reflections from the Israeli Blogosphere–

Maurice of OneJerusalem offers a detailed explanation of what happened that night:

Thursday’s terror attack on students of the Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva in Jerusalem is being called one of the worst terror incidents in Israel’s capital since the beginning of the Second Intifada. The attack, which now appears to have been carried out by a lone Arab gunman, resulted in 8 students being killed and close to 40 injured, including 5 still listed to be in critical condition at the time of this writing. Some of the students killed and wounded were as young as 14…

Police were notified shortly after 8:30 p.m. local time, after a man dressed similar to a yeshiva student appeared at the entrance carrying a “parcel” that carried the AK 47 assault rifle and numerous magazines of ammunition which he began to fire indiscriminately at the students who were attending prayers in the library. During the pandemonium that followed, scores of screaming students tried to escape the hail of bullets, including jumping out of the yishiva’s second and third story windows. Many of the injuries sustained by the students included broken bones caused by jumping to the ground below.

One of the students, who identified himself as Ariel, called out on his cell phone and said that the assailant “just started shooting at everyone indiscriminately”. Police and army personnel who arrived at the scene were hampered in stopping the carnage due to the confusion caused by the student’s panic. “Bodies and blood were everywhere” another student said. An IDF officer who was familiar with the Yishiva’s layout, entered the building by a back door and managed to kill the attacker when one of his ammunition magazines ran out…

Talks may continue, but now who will listen to them?”

Please note that all of those in critical condition are now considered safely in recovery.

YouTube user DeusVult777 created “The Attack on Mercaz HaRav” to bring us a broader perspective of the evening's effects. [Warning: video contains graphic content.]

Amir Mizroch, news editor of the Jerusalem Post and author of Forecast Highs believes that the style of the attack was a deliberate message to the religious Zionist population. In “Attack Will Be Seen in Messianic Terms,” he writes:

Many of the top leadership of the religious Zionist movement, speaking at the funerals, spoke of revenge of the blood. The fact that the Jewish students were killed in a house of God touched the most basic nerve of many Israelis, and especially of the religious Zionist public…

Very few people outside the religious Zionist population have even heard of Merkaz Harav, let alone know somebody who studies there. This was not an attack aimed at the wider Israeli public, but a strategic attack against a very vocal public who will be demanding action of the government. There may even be some on the fringes of the settlement movement who will want to take the law into their own hands and carry out a revenge attack, maybe even against targets in East Jerusalem, where it looks like the killer came from.

The fact that the attack was carried out in the way it was – live fire, chasing down the students and shooting them at point blank range, as well as confirming the kills – and not by a suicide bombing, will add to the sense of brutality, of the narrative of good versus evil.

In “A Chilling Reality,” Rashi of OneJerusalem contemplates the effect of terrorism on Israeli morale:

In the face of this overwhelming nightmare and shock, its even more frustrating to realize that you really don’t know what to do. The greater evil is that we’ve come to realize that the tragedy hits too close to home.

There aren’t many more words for me to say on this matter. The fact of the matter is, the enemy is now able to penetrate into the heart of Israel and though the IDF and security forces have been doing an incredible job on protecting her citizens, nothing is yet fool-proof. We also live in a very small country and the concept of six degrees of seperation is very real.

Sometimes, its frightening.

Ilan Cohen of the Bits of Ink blog compiled his friends’ reactions upon hearing the news. They include:

_____’s family is all safe.
_____ is mad, angry, frustrated, and at a loss. I hate our government!
_____ feels transported back to Jerusalem, circa 2001.
_____ is wondering how long the Israeli government is going to keep trying to make peace with our enemies instead of throwing them out of Israel!
_____ is falling asleep to a lullaby of ambulance sirens.
_____ is in pain for her nation.
_____ is playing david broza to get some clarity.
_____ is praying for those hurt by the terrorists in Israel today.
_____ is crying to hashem ..*
_____ is sad and can’t fall asleep. may Hashem avenge their blood.
_____ decries the cowardly Jihadist attack on Mercaz HaRav.
_____ is waiting for the requisite post-bombing UN cycle of violence statement.
_____ Can’t believe what happened tonight. I was scared for the first time EVER to walk around Jerusalem. What is going on here? Anyone in charge here????
_____ is deeply saddened by the shooting in the Jerusalem yeshiva and is disgusted by others rejoicing this.
_____ is literally sick from looking at the news.
_____ is shocked and sad at the murder of 8 young yeshivah students in Jerusalem by an Arab terrorist. Jews, wake up!!!
_____ is still trying to comprehend…
_____ is mourning with the families.
_____ simply has no words.
_____May God protect Israel, since our government certainly can’t.

(* Note that Hashem is one of the Hebrew names for G-D.)

In an entry entitled, “Murdering Children,” Michael Eisenberg of Six Kids and a Full Time Job reflects from a parent's perspective:

I have many questions, but no answers to this tragic and unfathomable tragedy. I try to fathom what could move any human being to murder 8 kids in a school library? I try to fathom what country would not seek to change or do something in order to protect its citizens in the wake of this barbarian act? Looks like I will have to ponder this for even longer….

I am a father of 7 children. I will be sending my kids to a school like this in the coming years. How should I feel? How should they feel? Where is the deterrence? Where is the humanity?

I mourn the loss of these precious kids with all of my heart and continue to ponder this unthinkable predicament.

In “Echoes of Gunfire,” David Bogner of Treppenwitz mourns a family friend lost in the violence as he embraces his own child:

I lay awake for hours with Yonah sleeping next to me. I tried to find sleep myself, but for the most part I alternated between checking the news on my laptop and covering Yonah's face with enough kisses that I would never be able to look back and regret having missed even one. But even my small attentions to my sleeping son were bitter sweet because of the knowledge that just a few hundred yards away there was a family whose young son would never again awake.

As the time for Yonah's school bus came and went (and emails arrived with funeral details), I continued to hold his sleeping form next to me. There will (G-d willing) always be time enough for school and play and army service and life. But with the echoes of gunfire, past and present, ringing in our ears this morning, I'm sure many Israeli parents had trouble letting their children go.

The anonymous authors of Life Must Go On in Gaza and Sderot are Hope Man and Peace Man, one of whom lives in Sderot, the other in Gaza. Hope Man questions the point of the violence:

Retaliation or Terrorism? defense or offense? Does it really matter to the relatives and neighbors? To the friends and acquaintances?

Hope Man and Peace Man have started a petition, which they urge us to sign. The One Month Petition calls for:

“An Urgent call for a One Month cease fire! – Give us a break – We, citizens of Gaza, Sderot and people all over the world desperately call you, our leaders and decision makers, to completely cease fire immediately. Both sides are in a dead lock and One Month will give all parties an opportunity to rethink their policy and to find new paths out of this senseless and hopeless reality.

Rahel Jaskow of the Elms in the Yard blog turns her attention to politics, questioning the United States’ official reaction:

I just read that US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in her condemnation of the attack: “This barbarous act has no place among civilized peoples and shocks the conscience of all peace-loving nations.”

I beg to differ, Madam Secretary. The perpetrators of this barbarous act have no place among civilized peoples. Nor do those who handed out candy and fired weapons into the air to celebrate it.

Ginrod Isus of the Collective Thoughts of a Ginrod responds to the United Nations’ reaction:

“The UN has failed to agree on a response to the Jerusalem massacre” Really? Failed to agree? I always thought the UN would condemn terrorism. I watch the television in disbelief. Not in disbelief of the incident. But the footage of those celebrating, kissing the ground below them. Pure joy and celebration.”

Despite all, Jameel of The Muqata reminds us that the Hebrew month of a Adar is a time for celebration, saying:

I heard on the radio this morning one of the rabbanim from the Merkaz HaRav high school who said, “human beings were created to endure pain…death and mourning is part of life.”

No one ignores the pain of the terror, no one forgets the mourning. But we can't forget the message of Adar. We survived our enemies back then on Purim and we will continue to survive and flourish, today, and in the future. A Joyous Month of Adar to all of Israel.

Lastly, Lirun of East Med Sea Peace, asserts Israel's fortitude:

its very much a tradition in israeli psychology to not let conflict stifle life.. and to fight through it by living to the fullest..

Moving On–

The Israeli blogosphere's thoughts are with the victims of terror and their families, as well as the survivors. We wish them a full and swift recovery.

I leave you with the words of Mother Teresa, who said: “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten we belong to each other.”

Also on Global Voices Online:
Israel: Palestinian Gunman Kills 8 Students in Mercaz Harav, Jerusalem

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