A Toronto native living in Jerusalem literally got away with his life when Arab school students smashed the windows of his car and tried to attack him Monday morning.
The near-deadly rock-throwing attack occurred as Ephraim Silverberg was making his annual pilgrimage to the Mount of Olives Cemetery for the anniversary of the death of his grandfather, who was brought to Israel for burial after he died in Toronto.
He was driving from Mount Scopus to the Mount of Olives via the A-Tur Arab neighborhood. Silverberg, armed with a hand gun, took the precautions of locking his doors and turning on his mobile phone.
“About midway through the trip, there was a traffic jam, and the traffic slowed to a halt near the entrance of a boy's high school with the pupils just arriving for a day of studies,” he told Arutz Sheva.
“A few yards beyond the entrance to the school grounds, I heard a boom and immediately realized that a rock had struck my side of the car. At that point, I called emergency services on my cell phone and reported that I was under attack,” he related.
“The first rock was followed by many others as well as youths coming up and kicking the car. The traffic jam started to ease and I managed to move slowly forward. I informed emergency services that I was not attempting to exit the car but rather move forward as best as I could … I heard the sound of shattering glass and realized that the rear window and perhaps others were gone.”
The high school students ran after the car just as the traffic jam was breaking, and Silverberg managed to drive fast enough to outdistance them and reach the cemetery safely. Police arrive on the scene and later arrested one of the attackers, whom Silverberg was able to identify. He said that the police advised the youth of his rights to a lawyer and called the youth’s parents because he is a minor.
He said that if the traffic jam had remained, “they would have tried to drag me out of the car, and then I would have had to use my handgun – but I was outnumbered.” He added that he never thought to pull out his weapon during the attack.
After he guided his half-windowless car to the cemetery, a tourist bus parked beside him, and the driver told Silverberg that he had been behind him and had also called the police.
Silverberg also noted that his army service in the IDF helped save him. “I know how to keep my cool under fire, and I tried to deal with the situation in an analytical manner," he said.
He added that he will continue to travel to the cemetery every year, although by a different route. Silberberg usually uses goes to the cemetery through the Old City road that winds up to the cemetery, but the area was closed to traffic Sunday morning because of Jerusalem Unification Day celebrations.