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September 22, 1989 - Image 34

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-09-22

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

INSIGHT

"'M TAWM.'

Israel's Latest, Most
Improbable War Hero

ZE'EV CHAFETS

Israel Correspondent

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el Aviv —On a Satur-
day night in early
September, on Egged
bus 405 between Tel Aviv
and Jerusalem, a 60-year-old
Jerusalemite named Eliazer
Elsheikh became a war hero.
At first glance, he seems
ill-cast for the role. A nurses'
aide at Jerusalem's Hadas-
sah hospital, Elsheikh has a
neat, pencil-thin moustache,
wears a red yarmulke and
speaks the Arabic-inflected
Hebrew native to his boy-
hood neighborhood, the Jew-
ish Quarter of the Old City
of Jerusalem.
Eliazer Elsheikh had no
idea that he would be going
to war when he boarded bus
405 that Saturday night. He
and his wife, Aliza, had at-
tended a family wedding in
Petach Tikva, and they were
coming home to face another
uneventful Jerusalem week.
They sat in the front row,
near the driver, and talked
quietly as the bus rolled up
the hill to the capital.
About 15 minutes outside
of Jerusalem, at almost ex-
actly the same spot where an
Arab terrorist forced a simi-
lar bus off a cliff in July,
there was a sudden commo-
tion in the rear of Egged bus
405. Elsheikh heard some-
one scream, "Allah hu ,
Akbar" ("God Is" in
Arabic). It was aphrase he
knew from the mosques of
his boyhood in the Old City,
but this time it sounded like
a war-cry.
Eliazer Elsheikh turned
and saw a young man in his
mid-20s wearing a black silk
yarlmuke, rushing at the
driver with a knife in his
hand. The attacker stabbed
at the driver, who fought to
control the steering wheel
and hollered for help. With-
out thinking, Eliazer leaped
out of his seat and became a
combatant in the Palestin-
ian intifada.
"I tried to grab him by the
hair, but I couldn't get a
grip," he said, recalling the
incident. "The terrorist kept
trying to stab the driver, so I
reached between his legs
and grabbed him by his bet-
zim (testicles). I squeezed as
hard as I could, and I felt
him weakening, but I wasn't
able to pull him off entirely.
I just stood there squeezing
with all my might. I felt that
I had a divine power guiding
my hand."
As Elsheikh struggled
with the attacker, another
passenger, 62 year-old

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FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 1989

Avraham Benziman, came
to his aid. While the three
men tussled in the front of
the bus, the driver, bleeding
from wounds to his hand and
chest, managed to pull the
bus safely over to the side of
the road.
"The door flew open and
we fell out of the bus," said
Elsheikh. "I was still
holding on and I didn't let go
until he let go of the knife "
Police took the attacker,
whose name has not yet been
released, into custody. Un-
der interrogation he confess-
ed to another crime — a few
days earlier he had mur-
dered a Jewish construction
worker at a Tel Aviv build-
ing site where the two men
were both employed. Police
went to the scene of the
crime and found the badly
mutilated corpse of the vic-
tim, a father of four.
As the intifada enters its
21st month, attacks like
these are becoming i.ncreas-

'All they have to do
is put on a
yarmulke and we
can't tell them from
us.'

ingly common. Most of the
fighting is still between Is-
raeli troops and rock throw-
ing Palestinians in the West
Bank and Gaza; but grad-
ually, the violence seems to
be spreading across the
Green Line into Israel itself.
Last spring, two elderly
Jerusalemites were stabbed
to death by a young Pales-
tinian as they waited in
broad daylight for a bus on
the city's main street. Short-
ly thereafter, the body of a
kidnapped Israeli soldier,
Avi Sasportas, was found
near the Gaza Strip. These
incidents touched off a wave
of rock-throwing attacks by
Jews on Arab workers in Is-
rael.

The worst incident camel
last July, on the same bus
route where Elizer Elshiekh
subdued the knife-wielding
attacker. A Palestinian bent
on revenge for a friend's in-
jury at the hands of the Is-
raeli army seized the steer-
ing wheel of a crowded bus
and drove it off the side of
the road. Sixteen passengers'
were killed in the attack,
and 24 injured, many of;
them seriously.
Such incidents have led to
efforts to restrict or super-!
vise Arab workers and

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