‘I saw death in front of my eyes,’ says Jerusalem bus driver hit in Palestinian rock attack

“I hit the gas to escape this hell,” said the bus driver, as passengers recited the ‘Shema Yisrael’ prayer, believing they would die.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

The driver of a bus that was targeted in a rock-throwing attack by Arab rioters in Jerusalem’s Old City on Tuesday told Channel 13 News that he and the passengers “survived a lynching.”

Yechezkel Shmueli was driving Egged bus line 3 near Damascus Gate when his vehicle was suddenly pelted with rocks and other projectiles, shattering the windows.

“[We] knew there had been rock-throwing earlier in the day,” Shmueli said, “but I was told that the police had opened up the road again and that security forces would be accompanying us.”

“I arrived at the Damascus Gate area and saw the rioters milling about, but I didn’t think anything was going to happen.”

Shmueli’s assessment that the situation was safe was incorrect.

As soon as he slowed down, his bus was hit with a large barrage of rocks, several of which hit him in his stomach and leg.

“Glass was shattering. I yelled for [the passengers] to lie on the floor. I hit the gas to escape this hell. We survived a lynching and saw death in front of our eyes,” he recalled.

Shmueli said as he was frantically maneuvering the bus to safety despite a shattered windshield, he heard passengers reciting the Shema Yisrael prayer. Jews traditionally say the prayer during times of great danger or when one is in a near death situation.

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Fortunately, while a number of passengers were cut by glass fragments, nobody aboard the bus was seriously wounded in the attack. However, two men were transported to Jerusalem hospitals due to injuries sustained in separate stone-throwing incidents the same afternoon.

The fact that Shmueli was blindly sent into the situation, he said, showed an unacceptable disconnect between Israel’s security forces and public transportation operators. Shmueli was instructed to continue on his route as normal, despite the fact that there had been reports of rock-throwing attacks in the area earlier that same day.

“I’m sure it was necessary to find me an alternate route,” he said. “This wasn’t the first incident [of the day.] This happened after multiple incidents. When will we learn?”

“They sent a man to a minefield and told him, ‘Pray not to hit a mine.’”