A terrorist in a white car drove by the Ofra Junction Sunday night at around 9:45 p.m. He slowed his car, rolled down his window and shot at a group of young people lighting Hanukkah candles in memory of a car accident at a bus stop near the junction.
“There were soldiers and men standing at that junction,” said A.Y. Katsof, director of The Heart of Israel. “But he fired his first shot directly at the stomach of a 21-year-old pregnant mother. Then, he turned to the teenage girls.”
Shira Ish-Ron was critically wounded. She was hit in the lower abdomen and pelvis and underwent surgery at a Jerusalem hospital, during which the baby was delivered in an emergency procedure. At the time of this writing, the baby is on a ventilator and fighting for his life. Ish-Ron is also fighting for her life.
Husband Amichai Ish-Ron, 22, was also wounded in the attack. He underwent surgery and his condition is now described as light-to-moderate.
In total, seven people were wounded near the junction, mostly teens.
Katsof, who was on the scene shortly after the incident, explained that the bullet did not hit the baby, but the baby’s condition was compromised by the mother’s loss of blood.
“It is a simple element of time,” said Katsoff. “The mom had internal bleeding. It took about 30 minutes to get to the hospital and only then could they take the baby out.
“If everything could have happened quicker, if we had an emergency trauma room in the heart of Israel, the baby and mother would be doing better,” he continued. “It is just simple math.”
Katsof, who is a trained first responder and serves on an area security team, said the first phase of any injury is the most critical.
“If you get a person to the emergency room fast, you can save his life,” he said. “If you get there later, the person might live, but is more likely to suffer from long-term damage, usually some brain damage due to blood not getting to the brain. If you wait longer, the results can be fatal.”
Such was the case with Malachi Rosenfeld, 25, who was gunned down by an Arab terrorist near the Shomron community of Shvut Rachel in 2015 while returning home from a basketball game.
Rosenfeld was evacuated to the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem in serious condition, but was pronounced dead. He bled to death en-route to the hospital.
“These attacks keep happening,” Katsof said. “The army is doing its job fighting terror. Our job as civilians is to save lives. That is all we can do.”
‘I AM GOING BACK’
Katsof said the aftermath of shooting attacks is quieter than one might expect.
“There is no scary music like in the movies,” he said.
But he said when he arrived at the hospital with the victims he was surprised to see the strength of the younger generation.
Sixteen-year-old Merav Sharvit from Kochav Yaakov has shrapnel in her leg. She was visited by Yisrael Gantz, head of the Benjamin Regional Council. He asked her if she would stop hitchhiking or hanging out at the Ofra Junction as a result of the attack.
“Her response was, ‘Get me out of this bed and I am going right back to the bus stop and I am going to hitchhike again,’” Katsof said, describing Sharvit as a fiery girl, not much older than his own daughter. “She said, ‘I am not going to let any terrorist tell me how to live my life. This is my home and my heartland.’”
‘HER FACE FLASHED IN FRONT OF MY EYES’
Ilanit Chernick, a journalist with TPS, covered the attack from her Jerusalem home. She said she was getting ready for bed when her phone started “buzzing and buzzing and buzzing.”
“I looked at my phone, got my laptop out and got busy writing,” she said, describing updates she received from Magen David Adom and the IDF, which she made live on Twitter and Facebook.
As she learned about the age of the victims and the pregnant mother, she started to feel sick.
“You do what you have to do and process it later,” she said.
But as the woman’s Hebrew name came out and then her English name, Chernick realized she knew Shira Ish-Ron.
“Her face flashed in front of my eyes,” Chernick said.
Ish-Ron was a counselor at a Jerusalem seminary that Chernick’s best friend attended and Ish-Ron also has a South African father. Chernick is from South Africa.
“It reminded me of when I was reporting on Ari Fuld and then they sent his name and picture,” Chernick said with a shudder, recalling another incident earlier this year when a Palestinian terrorist stabbed the 45-year-old Anglo-Israeli outside a grocery store at the Gush Etzion Junction south of Jerusalem.
“It is shock and sadness and it is not fair and she was pregnant and recently married and did not deserve it,” Chernick said. “When it is someone you know, it changes the whole situation.”
Chernick said many members of the South African-Israeli community have come together to read Psalms and pray on behalf of Ish-Ron and her premature baby.
Please pray for Shira Yael bat Liora Sara and tinok (baby) ben Shira Yael. And please make a generous gift to help The Heart of Israel build an emergency trauma center in the biblical heartland.
Written in cooperation with The Heart of Israel.