I had this great idea to take "my girls" to an amazing show - an all women's play put on by incredibly talented women in Gush Etzion. I invited my daughters and daughters-in-law and ordered the tickets.
I called them in the morning to tell them that it gets cold in the Gush and they should bring sweaters. We made the plans - 6:30 p.m. pick up. I left the house at 6:32, with my youngest daughter and Elie's wife; picked up Shmulik's wife and my oldest daughter. I drove up the hill, up, up...made the right...and within minutes found myself in the midst of the kind of traffic you hit at 6:45 a.m., not 6:45 p.m.
We finally made it around the circle, only to find police had blocked the exit towards the front of the city - we were forced to make a full circle and head back towards one of two other exits.
Cars were creeping along - jammed up in the cities numerous circles. It took us almost 30 minutes to get out of the city, using one of the other exits. We caught the light - and after a few minutes, found ourselves on the major Tel Aviv - Jerusalem - Dead Sea highway at a complete standstill.
It was there we learned about a threat to Maale Adumim - my city. Rumors were spreading like wildfire as I closed the engine. We all got out of the car - so many people standing doing nothing. Mixed in the flow of traffic were both Arabs and Jews. Many of the Arabs were passengers of Arab taxis - who decided to hike up the hill to get to their neighborhoods.
One report said the police had found a booby-trapped car; another said an Arab had driven up to the checkpoint at Maale Adumim in a car with no license plates and threatened to carry out a terror attack as a result of an argument he had with another Arab in Azariya. Yet another rumor hinted at a kidnapping.
Behind us was a white van. The man got out and was standing surveying the road. He made Amira a bit nervous, especially when she saw that he had a gun. It took me a second before I thought that I recognized him - I called him by name and he turned to me.
I explained that I was Shmulik's mother - he was Shmulik's commanding officer. I asked him if he knew what was happening. At this point, he is a Lt. Colonel and absolutely knows what is happening in this area, though he was actually off-duty, dressed as a civilian, and accompanied by his wife and some friends.
"A suspicious car," he said.
"I heard it might be weapons or a kidnapping," I told him.
"A suspicious car," he said again. "Don't believe the news."
So, we missed the show and went out to get bagels instead. We had a nice time, though Aliza was very sad at first.
I got home a short time ago to discover that it was, as the first reports indicated, only a suspicious car - and in the end, not even that. No weapons were found in the car; no threat.
But one Arab decided to cause trouble and so he drove up to Israeli guards and told them he wanted to carry out a terrorist attack...and, in some way, he did - he stranded thousands of people in all directions for many kilometers. He jammed up a city of 45,000 people.
In the coming days, maybe we will find out he is mentally ill. Maybe we'll find out it really was because of a stupid argument he had with some guy in Azariya. What I do know is that part of life in Israel is accepting things like tonight philosophically.
On the way back, we joked about the show we didn't see. "It was so realistic how they made it appear like there were thousands of cars in the studio," said one daughter. "And all the lights," said another.
My goal was to have a night with "my girls." I would have loved to see the wonderful play (and still hope I'll get a chance in the coming weeks at one of the next two performances) - but even having missed the play, my main goal was accomplished. Better safe than sorry - and today, with much gratitude, we are all safe.
I still can't believe though, that one man and one car caused so much trouble....