“Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.” (Isaiah 35:3–4)
Despite the concrete barriers that now encircle stations along the Jerusalem Light Rail, this last month’s spate of terrorist attacks including vehicles ramming into tram passengers on two separate occasions has shaken Jerusalem residents.
Since this unrest began several weeks ago, about 70% of regular light rail passengers have opted out of taking the tram.
Yet, showing admirable grit, a group of Jerusalem girls from religious Zionist youth group Bnei Akiva has refused to succumb to fear, committing to ride the whole tram route every night, from the beginning of the route in the southern stop of Mount Herzl to the end of the route in northern east Jerusalem’s French Hill district.
As the tram passes the Jerusalem Old City every night, the girls have told other passengers that they are riding the “Zionist train,” and ask others on board to pose for a photograph with a sign that reads: “Together we are guarding Jerusalem.” (United With Israel)
Carrying blue-and-white flags and posting train photos on Facebook, the girls’ campaign comes in the aftermath of two terror attacks that killed three people waiting for the tram by vehicular assault.
Snaking through the western and northeastern parts of Jerusalem, the 2011-launched tram allows Israelis to access Jewish and Arab-majority communities throughout the capital, a convenience for residents and a way that brings all of Jerusalem’s residents and visitors into close quarters for the length of the train ride.
“The light rail is a microcosm of Jerusalem. It runs in the central spaces of Jerusalem. So what happens in Jerusalem happens in the light rail, for better or worse,” said Ozel Vatik, spokesman for the CityPass company, which runs the rail. (Forward)
About half of the 13.9 km (8.8 mile) light rail route serves East Jerusalem from the Damascus Gate at the old city up Municipal Road 1 through the primarily Arab neighborhood of Shu’afat, and into the Jerusalem settlement of Pisgat Ze’ev before ending at French Hill. (CityPass)
In addition to the car-based terror attacks against Israelis, Judeophobic Arabs have come to target the light rail on a daily basis—throwing stones at the train’s windows causing $133,000 in damage, cutting at the rail lines with saws, and losing CityPass tens of millions in repair costs and losses of revenue from reduced ridership, writes award winning, veteran journalist Elli Wohlgelernter.
Three-month-old Chaya Zissel-Braun, a U.S. citizen, and 22-year-old Karen Mosquera from Ecuador were both victims of vehicular terrorism, succumbing to their wounds.
The impact of the car driven by Abdel Rahman al-Shaludi, a resident of Silwan, flung Zissel-Braun 10–30 meters from her stroller before she landed on her head; the blunt force trauma led to intracranial bleeding before death. (The Jewish Chronicle)
“Most incidents go unreported. A police blotter diary reveals that even before the light-rail attack at 5:53 p.m., rocks were thrown in four incidents, a firebomb in another, a stolen vehicle crashed into the checkpoint leading to Gush Etzion and an Arab male armed with a knife confessed he was planning to stab a security officer and was taken into custody,” Wohlgelernter states.
Since the attacks, police have launched observation balloons with cameras to track incidents that occur and to prompt emergency responders. Police have also added more than a thousand reinforcements to keep Jerusalem’s security in check.