The Cell Phones Wouldn’t Stop Ringing

A friend of mine who lives in Jerusalem was on his way to work on the morning of January 29. He was suffering the usual heavy morning traffic, three cars behind an Egged bus loaded with schoolchildren and commuters. Suddenly a huge explosion and ball of fire tore through the rear of the bus, ripping it to shreds and flinging bodies and body parts high into the air.

A young suicide bomber had boarded the bus a few stops earlier. He had left his Bethlehem home at four in the morning to carry out his deadly attack. His mentors and suppliers of the lethal device laden with metal balls, nails, and bolts were members of Yasser Arafat’s Fatah-linked al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

As rescuers rushed to the scene, they saw ten bodies and more than fifty wounded scattered amid the wreckage. The count in both cases would rise over the next few days.

Such horrific atrocities are seen in the West only in short clips that provide glimpses of the scene after the victims’ remains have been removed. These images are far from what my friend witnessed from the windshield of his car.

The sanitized reports talk much of political frustration and offer reasons why these Arabs consider genocide a legitimate enterprise. Then there are the protestations, sincere or insincere, condemning the acts, often coming even from those behind the deadly bombings.

What reporters tend to obscure is the human side of the issue. Virtually nothing is mentioned about the Palestinian victim who carries his backpack onto a bus and flips the switch on the detonator. Yes, he is a victim too—a victim of years of brainwashing and incitement in classrooms, summer camps, and vehemently anti-Israel mosques by unscrupulous leaders who promise paradise, a martyr’s welcome by Allah, and money that will enrich his family after he “sacrifices” himself.

Before his fall, Saddam Hussein and our allies, the Saudis, sent thousands of dollars to the families of suicide bombers.

Through notes and prerecorded videotapes left behind, to be exploited by those who feed these victims into the jaws of certain death, the bombers urge their families to celebrate their “heroism” and send candy to the people of their towns and villages.

The pathetic episodes are an inexpressible horror that should bring the wrath of civilized nations down on the purveyors of this newest weapon of war. But it doesn’t. Instead, there is silence or a sort of justification and placing of blame on the victims themselves. In this case, victims who were just trying to get to school.

But what brings these unspeakable atrocities into sharp focus is the immediate aftermath of such attacks. Everywhere are charred bodies, body parts, bits and pieces of human remains in the streets, on the storefronts, and on the faces of those who stood nearby. Innocent lives were cruelly snuffed out because they were Jewish and unfortunate enough to get on a bus at the wrong time and on the wrong day.

For one observer, this attack seemed different. As he ran to the scene to offer whatever assistance he could render, he heard the sound of dozens of cell phones scattered among the carnage, ringing endlessly.

“The cell phones,” he said, “wouldn’t stop ringing.”

That observation succinctly summarizes the depth of the tragedy that, for over the past three years of Arafat’s war on the Jews, has struck down more than one thousand innocent men, women, and children.

On one end of the relentless ringing were frantic parents, friends, or family members hoping to confirm that their child or loved one was all right. On the other end, lying in the bloodied street, were phones that would never be picked up. On one end life; on the other, death.

Sadly, that is only the beginning of the story. The next day come the funerals. The faces and lists of the dead appear in newspapers and on television. But the hardest blow of all is the finality of the event, starkly depicted in the echoes of the unanswered cell phones. That loss will stalk every day and night for all of the years to come.

You see, the story isn’t told by the remains of bombed-out buses—vehicles that can be replaced and service restored the next day. It is told by human casualties, who cannot be replaced. And if the mania and hysteria of war subside before the Lord brings it to an end, the casualty count will still be the same. And tears will continue to stain the faces of the innocent survivors.

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