The Mothers Bus Attack
The Fellowship | March 7, 2018
Thirty years ago, terrorists hijacked a bus in southern Israel. The bus was carrying employees to work, many of them mothers. The Times of Israel provides us with this first-hand account by one of the members of the elite Yamam counterterrorism unit, Mark Granat, who helped rescue the hostages:
On March 7, 1988, the Yamam anti-terrorism unit of the Israel Police rescued eight Israeli civilian hostages being held by terrorists on a bus near Dimona. Today the Yamam is famous for a variety of difficult and audacious missions that it has undertaken in the seemingly endless fight against terrorism, and it is highly respected. But that drizzly March morning in the desert was the first time the Yamam had executed a classic hostage rescue mission, and its success propelled the unit from relative obscurity to worldwide fame. I was a member of the rescue team. This is my personal account of that day…
I don’t remember much of what was said, but I do remember what Ronit and Rachel told me about how the rescue had unfolded for them. It was like a thunderbolt. They said that they heard a quick fusillade of shots, then there was a brief moment of panic, and suddenly there were “soldiers” everywhere. Of course, that’s how it should have been. Total surprise.
As for my own perspective? This is it.
Monday, March 7, 1988, was a rare sleep-in morning in the Yamam’s base, “somewhere in the centre of the country.” All the men in my troop, Number 3 Troop, were snoozing in our beds. We had all been up late the night before, enjoying the unit’s Purim party. The party hadn’t been a booze-up – that wasn’t our style and two troops were in any case on stand-by and were spending the night on the base. Instead, all the unit’s personnel, together with wives and girlfriends, had enjoyed an inter-troop comedy sketch competition.
But our planned lie-in that Monday morning was interrupted by the shrill ringing of the base’s emergency alarm bells. When those bells go off, you get dressed as fast as you can and run down to the vans. It’s something you do without thinking, just another drill. You don’t worry about brushing your teeth or applying deodorant – your next customers aren’t expected be too offended by your toilette. And you don’t worry about the briefing – you get that by radio while you’re on your way to wherever the emergency is. The important thing is: get on the road as soon as you can…