An extremely brutal moment on Tuesday morning left many people scarred for life after witnessing the worst terror attack Jerusalem has seen in years.
Just seven minutes of terror indelibly transformed the lives of many Israelis who were witness to the horrendous terror attack on Tuesday in which two Arab terrorists barged into a Jerusalem synagogue, hacking and shooting to death four Jewish worshipers and, later, a responding policeman. Several others were severely wounded.
Worshipers, medics, policemen – anyone present at the attack described what they experienced in one word: Massacre.
Shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ and Firing
Shmuel Goldstein took his 12-year-old son to pray at the synagogue. The terrorists seriously wounded Goldstein, but his son Mordechai managed to escape unharmed – physically, at least – by crawling out the door.
“He crawled on the floor so that nobody would notice him and escaped,” renowned educator Tzipora Heller, Goldstein’s mother-in-law, told Israel’s Ynet. “The boy has been traumatized, he repeats over and over again how Arabs tried to kill everyone who was there. He arrived at his house, knocked on the door, his mother opened it and he told her everything that happened.”
“It is a difficult experience for an adult, so of course it would be for a child. He spoke with a social worker from the hospital. He talks and looks okay but he does not talk of his feelings,” Heller said.
Goldstein, 43, a father of nine, is in serious but stable condition. He suffered wounds to his head, chest, hand and ear. “We spoke to him before he was taken to surgery. We told him the boy was able to escape because he was probably very worried, and [he] said, ‘thank God,’ and then he was sedated,” Heller added.
Yaakov Amos was praying in the synagogue at the time of the attack. “During the prayers, I heard shots and saw a worshiper wearing Tefillin (phylacteries) lying on the floor. The bastard [terrorist] passed me from the right while shouting Allahu Akbar and firing. Three people fell immediately, and I saw him keep on massacring people,” Amos told Ynet. “One of the terrorists did not waste bullets and aimed directly at people. He fired and then looked at me, and chose people closer to him, shooting them at point blank range.”
Tehila, a woman in her 20s, saw the attack unfold from her window. She told Tazpit News Agency: “I was asleep and heard many people screaming. I jumped out of bed and saw policemen, some not even wearing uniforms, running around in what looked like a crazy way. I also saw some injured people. One was full of blood. Afterwards, all the police forces came and I saw what sounded like a firefight. The police yelled at us to go inside and close the windows, since they hadn’t yet captured the terrorists.”
“It’s an hour later, and we are still shivering…The synagogue is a central one, it has a large congregation. You never dream something like this could happen in Har Nof,” she said.
Yehuda Grossbard, an eyewitness, told Tazpit News Agency: “My wife heard shots…I ran downstairs and saw people running out of the synagogue; some were covered in blood. I went next to the synagogue and I heard gunshots, I saw someone outside whose head was full of blood. Then I heard more shots, and that’s when the police came. They told people to get on the ground, and then the terrorists jumped out from the stairs and they shot them there.”
‘I Asked God to Save Me’
Yossi Barzani, one of the worshipers, recounted to Ynet the horrifying experience. “In the middle of prayers, two terrorists entered, shouting Allahu Akbar. The synagogue was in panic, and I tried to flee. At one point, one of the terrorists approached me with a knife, and there was a chair and a table between us. I drew back and ran from him and fled outside. In those moments, I asked God to save me. My prayer shawl got caught. I left it there and escaped. On the way out, I saw terrible sights and bodies.”
Wrong Place at the Wrong Time
Ofer, whose brother was wounded in the attack, told Ynet his brother had been struck in the head by a meat cleaver and was undergoing surgery. He initially heard about the massacre after receiving a message that there had been a terror attack, and he rushed to the scene. He used to live in the neighborhood and his brother was still a resident there. “I didn’t think he would be there,” said Ofer, “but unfortunately he was apparently the first to be stabbed and shot.”
“We all love him,” Ofer told Ynet. “He is an outstanding person; he loves to help people and would never take a shekel from anyone. We hope that my brother will come out of this and keep on teaching and being a righteous family man. My brother was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Bravery Under Fire
Superintendent A., who serves as a Forensic Laboratory Specialist in the Division of Identification and Forensic Science (DIFS), was the police officer who eliminated the two terrorists.
“It began as a regular morning for me,” he said. “I was sitting in my car when I heard the report from dispatch. We drove as fast as we could. It was absolutely clear to me that this was an unusual event.”
“When I arrived at the scene I saw two policemen at the entrance to the Yeshiva and continued to hear shooting. It was clear to me that if I stay outside people will be murdered inside,” he explained. “The policeman standing near me was shot and wounded and I understood I was in the line of fire. I saw two Arabs; one was holding a gun and a butcher’s knife, and the other one was holding a knife drenched in blood. I understood it was me or them, and I shot them both.”
Superintendent A. entered the building to continue his search for more terrorists. “One look inside and I saw lots and lots of blood. Ultra-Orthodox Jews lying on the ground. Massacre. And basically this is when my role in the incident ended.”
Reminiscent of Scenes from the Holocaust
Aryeh Shavit, one of the first emergency medical responders to arrive at the scene, said that “two terrorists entered a synagogue and slaughtered the worshipers as they were praying, donning their prayer shawls and phylacteries. We provide initial medical treatment to the wounded with various degrees of injuries; unfortunately, several of them were severely wounded. A quick response by Israel’s police neutralized the terrorists. It was a combined knife and handgun attack.”
One of the worshipers present during the attack described how the terrorists “continued to try and harm anyone who was in their way or who tried to escape.”
Another eyewitness commented that the scene of the terror attack with bloodied bodies of Jews wearing tallitot and tefillin (prayer shawls and phylacteries) was reminiscent of scenes from the Holocaust.
Author: United with Israel Staff
(With files from YNET)