Jerusalem's bomb squad, the most
experienced in the world, hits the street
up to 100 times a week. Its sappers
are on the front lines of terror in the
SW E AT
8t TE A RS
- Special to The Jewish News
or an instant, there is no street, no
crowd behind police barriers, no
world, not even a sense of time. There
is only Yoni and a large plastic yellow
bag atop an illegaly parked BWM in the
middle of downtown Jerusalem. Just a
man and a package. Yoni is a member of
Jerusalem's elite Bomb Squad, the most
experienced amd field-tested bomb squad
in the world. As he studies the suspicious
yellow shopping bag, Yoni's face suddenly
Riming to his partner, he mutters, "I
think it's real."
They immediately begin what the squad
calls "an attack." Yoni's partner, aided by
policemen, clears the street. Motor traffic
is directed away. People emerging from
doorways and around corners are shooed
During those same seconds, Yoni races
to his white Dodge van. He swings open
the side panel door, adjusts the shiny .45
automatic hugging the small of his back
and straps on lightweight velcro-tipped
protective clothing: A flak j acket, leggings,
and a thick crotch protector. Jogging back
to the yellow bag, he dons his heavy helmet
and dense plastic face mask to complete
Minute one has elapsed.
Yoni's partner has already laid out the
equipment. Yoni begins deploying a special
device at various points in the vicinity of
the bomb — some as far away as down the
street. Neither the device nor any of the
squad's sophisticated techniques can be
described. Specially designed by the
Jerusalem bomb "sappers," "the device" is
the squad's initial counter-measure.
Yoni must now attach a "gadget" to the
bag. He approaches again, gaze transfixed.
Backstepping, he makes a final check of
the vicinity. "Wait!" his partner yells.
A woman carrying a baby has just
turned the corner and walked near the
yellow bag. Yoni waves her down: "Get
back." As soon as she sees his green bomb
protection suit, she fades from sight.
Minute two has elapsed.
The street is finally clear. Yoni crouches
behind a pillar, but if that bag is packed
with explosives, it will maim anyone within
20 yards. Pillar or not, that means him.
Now fear comes to Yoni, not as an enemy,
but as a companion. A pause. A thought.
He activates the anti-bomb "device." The
package is suddenly "neutralized."
Minute three has elapsed.
Yoni grins through streams of sweat.
"For a while in the beginning," he says, "we
are always afraid. But then it comes out
okay, and we feel fine." As Yoni collects his
gear, and the street quickly returns to nor-
mal, people in the crowd can be heard