Israelis Identify with Boston Terror Attack

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MODI'IN, Israel -- The trauma from the Boston Marathon bombing will stay with America for a long time. Israelis can identify.

The frightening images from the bombing in Boston went global in a matter of hours. For many Israelis, it brought back memories of their own experiences with terrorism. 

Take a walk around Jerusalem and you'll see memorials marking the many terror attacks that took place during the period known as the second intifada.

From September 2000 through the end of 2004, nearly 1,000 Israelis died in suicide bombings and other terror attacks, and thousands more were wounded.

A stone marker commemorates eight Israelis, including three 18-year-olds, killed on February 22, 2004.

"It's a terrible thing to have so much pain and suffering and families changed forever from this type of event," former Bostonian Debbie Garner told CBN News. "And such a fun event, as I remember as a child going out into 'Comm Ave' [Commonwealth Avenue] and watching the marathon. That, that kind of event will have that memory associated with it is really a terrible thing."

Garner, who grew up in Boston, now lives in Israel with her family. She knows what it's like to live in the terror shadow.
"You realize that sort of 'welcome to the club,'" Garner said. "We live it day to day and now unfortunately Boston is into that club and having to take precautions that maybe weren't having to be taken in previous years."

"This is something, maybe the biggest lessons the Americans can and should learn practically from that horrific event," terrorism expert Boaz Ganor told CBN News. 

Ganor admits it's almost impossible to screen every spectator in an event like the Boston Marathon.

"But there is another tier of activity," he said, "and this is public awareness. And I have to say that here I think the Americans should make more emphasis on public awareness. Some refer to this as resilience," he continued.

"I think that public awareness in counter-terrorism is an integral part of resilience and the American is resilient in many ways, but in that respect, they need to be much more resilient and much more aware of their surroundings," Ganor said.
Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld saw public awareness in action on March 23, 2010, when a local shopkeeper noticed a suspicious package, called police and warned bystanders.

"I remember that day being at the scene," Rosenfeld told CBN News. 

"When the phone and the line were still open, he also asked members of the public out of the area because of this suspicious bag, suitcase," he recalled.  "And what happened was that when he was on the line, so the explosion took place and in fact if he wouldn't [have] move[d] those members of the public out of the area, a lot of people would have been killed that day."

One person died and dozens were wounded, but it could have been much worse.

"But that just goes to show what public awareness [can do]," Rosenfeld continued. "That as soon as people see a bag or an object, [they should] immediately call the police and, in fact, work specifically in the first few seconds to try and make sure that people aren't in any specific danger."
While these things may be second nature for Israelis, Garner feels these lessons must be taught around the world. 

"So I think first of all everyone should be aware of their surroundings at any point in time wherever you are in the world," she said. "One day it's Boston, one day it's Tel Aviv and one day it's Katmandu.  You really don't know what's going to happen any day," she said.

"But [we're] not to live life in panic or fear all the time either and certain precautions need to be taken," Garner concluded.

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CBN News
Chris Mitchell

Chris Mitchell

CBN News Middle East Bureau Chief

In a time where the world's attention is riveted on events in the Middle East, CBN viewers have come to appreciate Chris Mitchell's timely reports from this explosive region of the world. Mitchell brings a Biblical and prophetic perspective to these daily news events that shape our world.