A Split Second
© May 2002 by Asher Intrater
Eli Federman is the manager of a Thai Boxing club in Modiin. In an effort to pay his monthly bills, he works a couple of nights on the weekend as a security guard at the "Studio 49" disco in Tel Aviv. He works for minimum wage, as do thousands of others here in Israel as security guards.
Almost every public facility - from restaurants to schools to discos - employs a security guard now. Everyday in Israel there are terrorist attacks. Nine out of ten are thwarted, but they just keep coming and coming, like an infernal nightmare.
Security guard work in itself is almost painfully boring. Because of the low wages and high cost of living here, the guards have to work many long hours of overtime to try to make ends meet. You wait and watch, hour after hour, day after day.
And then it happens. In a tenth of a second, Eli Federman thinks he sees a car veering strangely on the highway in front of the disco. Seems suspicious. Is it? Isn't it? Another tenth of a second goes by. Eli sees the car swerving toward the front door of the disco. No time to think. Eli had some experience with car bombs from the time he served in Lebanon.
Another tenth of a second passes, and Eli shouts. With one hand he pushes down toward the ground three customers standing at the entrance to the disco. With the other hand he reaches for his gun. Another tenth of a second - Eli crouches and starts to fire toward the driver.
The car swerves and hits the curb in front of him. The driver slumps to the side. Another tenth of a second - there is an explosion. Eli runs to the car and empties the rest of his revolver. In this case it turns out that in the trunk of the car were five large bombs. This time the quick reflexes of the security guard saved dozens of lives.
A split second made the difference.
Next to our office, the office of Maoz ministries and Congregation Tiferet Yeshua, is a large field. On the other side of the field is the Gelilot interchange of highway 5. On the other side of the interchange is the Pi Gelilot terminal. It contains the largest reservoir of gas, oil, and gasoline in the country. Tanker trucks from all over the country come to fill up and take the fuel to gas stations and businesses from north to south.
One of those trucks arrived in the middle of the night to fill up and start its daily rounds. Unbeknownst to the driver, a clever terrorist team had attached an explosive device under the belly of the tanker. As the driver began the filling, the terrorists dialed the number of the cellular phone, which was attached to the bomb and served as the detonating device.
The bomb exploded. There was an awesome "boom." The tanker truck was ripped apart. Fire started to flow out from the point of the explosion, spreading toward the huge oil reservoirs on the other side of the parking lot.
A doomsday scene was at hand. Should one of those reservoirs "blow," it would start a chain reaction that would literally ignite northern Tel Aviv. Thousands would be killed. For some reason the fire spreading across the spilled oil is moving very slowly.
Some newscasters said it was because it was low-grade diesel oil in the truck, not the regular gasoline. Most others said it was simply a miracle. The fire fighters arrive and manage to put out the flames. As they wipe their brows, they glance over at the huge reservoirs standing next to them.
The television cameras arrive. The nation holds its breath. A split second more could have meant World War III. Everyone here knows it. The nation gives a collective sigh. It's getting hard to be an atheist in this country.
As typical of our Jewish country, the next breath out of everyone's mouth is a series of complaints and accusations as to who should have been in charge, who is responsible, why wasn't there better security, and what can be done to prevent this from happening again.
But there is a deeper question that is troubling everyone here. This event was not just a suicide terrorist. This is what is termed as a "strategic" terrorist attack. It was well planned. It had sophisticated equipment. And it was planned to have a disastrous effect on thousands of people.
The world must realize that international terror is coming into a new age. There are nuclear devices today that can be hand carried. There are chemical and biological weapons that can cause "mass" damage. What will happen if a water supply of a major city is poisoned? What if a nuclear power plant is brought to a melt down?
An ironic note on the Studio 49 story: It turns out that the hero, Eli Federman, is the estranged brother of Noam Federman, one of the leaders of the "Cahane Chai" underground. Noam is now in jail under suspicion of having planned "terrorist" attacks on Arabs. When asked about his brother, Eli replied, "He is like Arafat to me. I see him as an enemy." Only in Israel.
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