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Tuesday, 18 June, 2002, 16:12 GMT 17:12 UK
Israeli mothers fear for their children
Wreckage of bus bombed in Jerusalem, 18 June, 2002
Scores of buses have been targeted by bombers

Idit Ben-Dor takes the bus to school every day, but on Tuesday she missed her ride.

Now she is thanking God that she did, for the 32A from Gilo, packed with schoolchildren, never reached its final destination.


It should have been me on that bus and I am shaking thinking about what might have happened

Idit Ben-Dor
Minutes after passing through Idit's neighbourhood, the bus and many of its young passengers were blown to pieces by a Palestinian suicide bomber.

"It's a miracle I didn't catch that bus," Idit told BBC News Online.

"It should have been me on that bus and I am shaking thinking about what might have happened," she said.

"I feel terrible, but thank God I missed the bus, thank God."

Bus bomb 'lottery'

Idit is one of tens of thousands of young people across Israel who depend on the public transport system, a system with a reputation for efficiency, reliability and, lately, extreme danger.

Israelis react after Jerusalem bus bombing, 18 June, 2002
Many parents are living in fear for their children's safety

What for years has been a mundane daily activity has now become a matter of life and death.

"It's like a lottery," said Idit's uncle, Eliezer Katzenstein.

"It frightens me to think about what happened with Idit," he said, "I am on the point of crying all the time."

Mr Katzenstein's own 13-year-old daughter, Yael, also takes the bus to school every day. He says this is a constant source of worry.

"I am afraid for her safety," he said, "but what can I do? She's got to go to school."

Parents' dilemma

In a country living in fear, many parents are now faced with the dilemma of whether or not to allow their children to use the bus network.


I don't want to take away my daughter's freedom, but I just don't want to take the risk

Shula Gattegno, mother

"It worries me terribly," said Shula Gattegno, a mother of two teenage girls from Ramat Hasharon.

After a recent bus bomb attack in nearby Herzliyah, Mrs Gattegno banned her youngest daughter, Karine, from using public transport.

"If Karine needs to go somewhere, I take her myself or tell her to take a taxi. If not, I tell her to cancel her plans.

"I don't want to take away her freedom, but I just don't want to take the risk. Most of my friends feel the same way," she said.

Anxious times

It is a situation that has meant adjusting to new realities in Israel.

As the school year ends, thousands of children look forward to heading off to summer camp, with many planning to make their way there by bus.

But with so many buses targeted by suicide bombers, parents are left facing an agonising decision.

"Everyone is wondering whether to send their children," said Candy Shinaar, a mother of two young children from Netanya.

"It's a terrible situation, but if my kids end up having to get a bus I will give them a loving speech before they go in case they never came back. There would be a fear in my heart that I wouldn't see them again."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Kim Barnes
"Jerusalem police had been on high alert since Monday"
Superintendent Gil Kleiman, Israeli police
"Yesterday we had a specifically "hot" general alert"
Arye Mekel, Israeli goverment spokesman
"Jerusalem is an open city and this is what happens"
Saeb Erekat, Senior Palestinian Negotiator
"We do condemn such attacks"

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18 Jun 02 | Middle East
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