On board the 74 bus in Jerusalem, tomorrow

Just over five years ago, I was in Tel Aviv when a suicide bomber struck at the city’s old central bus station.

In the attack, about fifteen people were injured; a few months later, during the festival of Passover, 11 people were killed and some 60 wounded when another terrorist struck a schwarma restaurant crowded with people having lunch.

I was on my gap year then, when the intifada was winding down but bombs and blasts were still happening with a terrifying frequency.

What I remember most clearly is not looking at the gruesome photos of bloodied victims, or shuddering at the thought of those affected, but of almost immediately boarding another, similar, Tel Aviv bus.

You feel apprehensive, of course, but you think ‘it won’t happen to me’, and you take your seat.

Bus rides, streetside cafes, beachfront bars like Mike’s Place (hit by a bomber in 2003, three dead, 50 injured); those are all a part of life in Israel, as around the world.

Today the area around the central bus station in Jerusalem will be cordoned off, but tomorrow? The people who managed to escape a dreadful fate on the 74 bus? They’ll have to catch it tomorrow, and the next day, and the next.

When terror becomes your reality, life has to go on. And it will in Jerusalem and across Israel, as it did throughout the last intifada.

But it shouldn’t have to, and we must hope and pray that this latest attack – a bomb of a scale not seen in the city since the early days of the security fence – will not be the start of another period when boarding a bus can mean endangering your life.

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