Reports of a thwarted bombing of the Yerushalayim light rail on Sunday morning sounded almost routine. The police arrested a 20-year-old Arab who was found to be carrying three pipe bombs in his backpack. Two main streets near a station at the intersection of Yafo and King George were cordoned off while sappers defused the devices. Then service resumed.
However, an interview with an eyewitness revealed that what happened was not routine at all, and that a major disaster was averted, b’chasdei Shamayim, by the narrowest of margins.
Rafael Sin-Shalom, an employee at a nearby store, told Israeli reporters the frightening things he saw:
“I went out to smoke a cigarette with one of the guards,” Sin-Shalom recounted. “The guard noticed the terrorist and asked him to identify himself. He instructed him to remove his backpack. The guard started a body search. I understood that this wasn’t something routine, so I pushed the bag [away from the terrorist] towards me and stood next to it.”
The security guard and Sin-Shalom then peered inside the bag – and were horrified by the sight of a large bomb.
“We looked into the bag, we saw the explosive device, and our hearts dropped into our stomachs. I turned white and broke out in a sweat. We started to warn everyone and yell that there was an explosive device. I didn’t know where to run. I told people in the store to flee, and I waited for an explosion. I was sure I was about to die.”
“The security guard was also terrified. He threw the terrorist on the ground, aimed his gun at him, and warned him not to move. We were just scared to death. The bag was right between my feet,” Sin-Shalom said.