'This is Attempted Murder'

Rabbi recalls moment his bus came under attack in latest violent incident near Jerusalem; says attacks common, calls for police presence.

Tova Dvorin and Ari Soffer ,

Rock attack in Ma'aleh Adumim
Rock attack in Ma'aleh Adumim
Rabbi Zev Shandalov

A rabbi has spoken to Arutz Sheva of his experience after the bus he was traveling on was attacked by Arab extremists Saturday night. His is the latest in a series of testimonies over the plague of potentially-lethal rock-attacks targeting Jews in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria.

A huge stone was hurled at the 174 bus between Jerusalem and Maaleh Adumim Saturday night, shattering a door and causing no injuries but rattling passengers and the bus driver. 

The incident occurred at about 7:00 pm, on the Egged Ta'avurah line. Rabbi Zev Shandalov, a Chicago native and Torah teacher, witnessed the attack.

"We were on the tunnel between Jerusalem and Ma'aleh Adumim, when all of a sudden I heard a huge crash," he recounted. "A very large rock smashed through the exit door, right behind my head, just missing us."

Rabbi Shandalov emphasized that these were new buses; the line just switched from Egged, the mainstream branch of one of Israel's biggest public transportation providers, to the Egged Ta'avurah line for "peripheral" commutes. The glass shattered after being hit by an immense stone, weighing some 2-3 kilos, according to his estimation. 

"One young girl on the bus was crying, because every time the driver went over a bump the glass would shatter a bit more and it sounded like we were being hit again," he continued. "I looked into the driver's rear-view mirror and he looked terrified, so I went up to him." 

"The driver was obviously very shaken up and he told me that he didn't know what to do." The Rabbi, however, had been through this before; last year, another stone had hurled through the same bus line, injuring a man sitting directly in front of him. "I told him to stop at the next checkpoint and to pull over and report to the authorities or the guard, and call the police." 

“He was definitely shaken up - as we all were - but he handled it very professionally,” he continued. 

Rabbi Shandalov pointed out that the area - and the phenomenon - "is very well known" and that a system should be in place to check the perpetrators.  

“The border patrol or police should be posted there and should be there to catch those people [. . .] it’s attempted murder. If that stone - 2-3 kilo - had hit someone in the head, it could have done extreme damage."

"It was 100% yad hashem (the hand of G-d) that no one was injured in this. Normally, the bus would have been fuller. It didn’t hit anyone directly - thank God the result was just a damaged bus. But the intention was to murder." 

Ma'aleh Adumim has been the focal point of several attacks - not just the rock attacks, which have seen a violent upswing over the past year. Earlier this month, a rogue vehicle smashed through the Maaleh Adumim checkpoint, injuring several guards. In May, a pipe bomb was also thrown near the town's limits. 

Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat acknowledged the alarming increase in violence earlier this month, in light of a rock-throwing attack on a Talpiot family, and emphasized then that a rock attack is a terror attack. 

"The problem isn't a lack of police forces," Barkat stated then, "but rather how to create a punishment that will provide a threat, that will show them [terrorists] that crime does not pay." 

Rabbi Shandalov echoed the feelings of many, however, that the situation is really a matter of apathy on a global scale. 

“If a Jew would take a rock of that size and throw it through the window of an Arab bus, they would be condemned overnight by the UN and the whole world," he lamented. "Jewish blood is cheap.” 

Less than two weeks ago the parents of a two year-old girl who suffered serious head injuries after an Arab mob attacked the car they were travelling in in Jerusalem spoke out, condemning the attackers who "consciously chose to harm children".

Some "road terror" attacks, as they are often called, also involve the use of firebombs - adding an extra lethal element to an already violent campaign. 

Last month, an Israeli man recounted to IDF radio the harrowing moments he saw his wife catch fire, after their car was struck by a molotov cocktail.

“I saw her going up in flames, I saw the whole seat, the whole area where she was sitting start to burn,” Zachy Choory recalled.

“The firebomb left trails of fire behind it and as I tried to pull her toward me, I, too, was burned by the firebomb, which had fallen between our seats.

“When I got Na’ama out of the car she and I started to put her out… Na’ama was screaming, ‘My stomach is burning,’ she could feel herself burning even after we put out the fire,” he recounted.