As reported on 2 July, an Arab "went postal" along the Jaffa Road, killing three and injuring at least 40 people. When I was riding towards Jerusalem's Central Bus Station Wednesday, planning to go to the phone company to clear up a bill, I heard the 12:00 news on the semi-official Voice of Israel hourly news roundup. While waiting for that bus, I had seen quite a number of police motorcycles, vehicles and a number of ambulances rushing ahead in the same direction I was going.
We Israelis have some rules of thumb when it comes to seeing ambulances or police vehicles: one ambulance means an accident or a heart attack; two ambulances mean a very serious vehicular accident; three or more are the sign of a terror attack. I was convinced there had been a terror attack based on the number of ambulances and the huge number of police vehicles zipping by.
But there are also certain terms you listen for in Hebrew on the news broadcasts to indicate this: pitzútz - explosion, irúa yéri - a shooting incident, nifgá - injured, m'Habél - terrorist, pigúa - terror attack. These were among the first terms I learned in Hebrew when we moved here seven years ago. Of all these terms listed, I heard only one - nifgá - injured.
The noon broadcast spoke of otobús hit'hapékh - an overturned bus, traktor (must I translate?), and reHóv yáfo - the Jaffa Road. The more we made our way slowly up the Jaffa Road, past landmarks like Davidka Square, maHané yehudá Shuk (souk in Arabic), the famous "open air" market where you can supposedly get bargains, the more I sensed that a trip to Bezeq to deal with a phone bill would be put off - and that I would be writing an article instead. My sense of this was confirmed when the police shut off the Jaffa Road altogether just past the Shuk and directed all traffic towards Agrippas Street, which runs parallel to the Jaffa Road for a ways. After about 100 meters or so on Agrippas, the police directed all traffic away from Agrippas Street as well, and since my ultimate destination was the Central Bus Station, which is on the Jaffa Road, I got off.