March 6, 2008: Piguah

Terrorist attack. This one in Jerusalem. In Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav — a yeshiva (a place of religious study) at the entrace to the city in the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood.

Forgive me if my information is just a bit tentative, as reports are still coming in and details keep changing. A terrorist with an automatic machine gun entered the yeshiva, stood at the doorway of the library, where there were about 80 persons gathered, and started spraying bullets. A student first shot him, but he kept firing and was finally taken down by an IDF officer who lives nearby and had quickly arrived at the scene. Eight people from the yeshiva are reported dead, with some six wounded, some quite seriously.

A paramedic reports that when he came in and encountered yeshiva students dead on the floor, "Some of them were still holding sacred Jewish books smeared with blood from which they were learning before they were murdered." May their deaths be avenged.


Mercaz HaRav. A primary institution of religious Zionism in this country. A good place, filled with decent and serious people. I am familiar with it on a personal level because my son lived in Kiryat Moshe, not far from the yeshiva, and davened (prayed) there.

I wept when I learned this news. The tears are for those killed, and for the sense of powerlessness in the face of such obscenity. The tears are also tears of rage. I am certain that I am not the only one feeling this rage. It has been a long time since there has been an attack like this in Jerusalem. But the memory of when such attacks were commonplace sits heavily in my memory.


It is unlikely that the people of this country will take this news quietly. We have been on edge for a very long time. What greatly exacerbates the sense of rage is this:

In Gaza they are celebrating. People are handing out candy on the streets and shooting guns in the air. Some are going to mosques to say prayers of thanksgiving. Prayers of thanksgiving because eight innocent students were deliberately shot down?

Mark this well: the difference between them and us.

Hamas has issued a statement saying it "blesses the operation. It will not be the last.”


The "Galilee Freedom Brigades" – an Israeli-Arab group – has claimed responsibility for the attack; there were early reports that it is associated with Hezbollah but this is altogether unclear as I write. It is believed that the terrorist was a resident of the Jabal el-Mukaber neighborhood of Jerusalem and thus had an ID card which permitted him free access to all parts of the city; there was apparently no need for infiltration from outside. The implications here are vast. Arabs in eastern Jerusalem have, in the last few days, been incited to enormous unrest because of Gaza.