Lunch time two days ago I learned with horror about a terrorist attack in Jerusalem, which has left one dead and 39 injured.
Here, in Jerusalem, a lot Christians and Messianic Jews I know here all know each other, partly down to Facebook I guess, but also as I know numerous different Christian organisations here, and today I hear stories from people who were nearby just a short time before it happened.
Jerusalem’s large central bus station has been targeted before by deadly attacks but not in a long time. When I have visited it requires turning out your pockets of metal things before going through a metal detector, as well as having your bag put through an X-ray, but not only that, when I have waited to meet a friend outside there, if you are stood still directly outside, then a security guard will challenge you are ask you what you are doing loitering, I attempted to lock my bike on some railings about 10 metres away from the bus station only to be shouted at that this wasn’t allowed.
Whilst working in IT before I came here I had the chance to see IT solutions, processes and other things that Israel has invented and sold to police, military and government agencies around the world to help other nations fight against terrorist threats.
For me and many of the people I work with, we still haven’t got over the huge tragedy in Japan especially as I have worked several Japanese people, their families were not harmed, but seeing their home countries under danger from a worryingly unstable nuclear power plant and images of massive destruction has to be heartbreaking. I enjoying working with the Japanese staff, I suppose you don’t see that many Japanese people come to the UK to visit, but I admire that they are so hardworking, resilient, and pleasant to be with.
For me that day, I was at the other end of Jerusalem, in Talpiyot at Bridges for Peace’s Outreach centre, a warehouse building that supplies food to the needy, either directly to people or put on palettes that go out to third party organisations that distribute it, so I didn’t know anything about this until a colleague got a phone call. Our main building is about 2 miles from where the bomb happened.
I have lived in Portsmouth’s Somerstown district which has a high crime rate, often walked past Guildhall walk, a strip of bars and clubs in the same city so popular for fights and trouble, and ambulance team hovers over this area most weekend nights ready. I have also been to ghetto parts of Los Angeles (just after 9/11) and Las Vegas which really made me uncomfortable, especially LA’s bus station, especially when you feel like you are being followed. These things are all relative. My cousin lives in Christchurch, New Zealand and he has had to deal with the devastating earthquake there, that has happened twice now.
Some people that visit Israel are surprised at how much security is here when you go through the airport and how metal detector doorways are in shopping malls and restaurants, its not a big inconvenience when go out and about town.
I do feel normally very safe here. I would urge anyone who is thinking of visiting the holyland not to be deterred by current events as long as you are sensible and stick to known areas.