Let me start and state up front that I was not injured and was safe. However, 30+ years of travel around the world, visiting 63+ countries and living/working in Israel for a few years in the past, I was never that close to a terrorist attack or in direct risk before.
My personal experience from this terrorist attack that occurred on Thursday, April 7, 2022.
I was just finishing a late night dinner with some friends in at great restaurant in Tel Aviv…and then we all realized something is going on. Something is not right. There is a terrorist attack underway nearby us. People have been killed and at least one of the attackers escaped and is now still at large around us.
We needed to move, we need to escape the area. I needed to get back to my hotel which would be an obvious choice for maximum safety in these cases. My friends had to determine if they could even leave and drive home. A border circle has now been formed in minutes to create blockades of every street in the area to trap the terrorist.
All cars are being searched, everyone is quickly locking down in restaurants, stores and apartments. What was thriving only minutes ago on the kickoff of the weekend night, the streets were emptying in minutes. It all stopped.
What was SO impressive is how quickly, how organized, how structured the whole community formed and assembled in minutes. Active, current as well as reserve and auxiliary units met and took their places. Police, guards, first responders, medics, coordinators. How am I going to get out of this risk area? I paired up with a soldier and we walked out of the current high risk terrorist proximity area to where the beach hotels were located.
I am thankful for my military/veteran experience in how to react, assess and act accordingly in these situations, I was able to point and guide other tourists that were confused, scared and needed some direction when everything was chaotic in front of them. It seemed like in less than 15 minutes, the streets were empty and most people had reached a safe lockdown position. In 20 years, I have never seen the beach of Tel Aviv 100% empty on a Thursday night.
I am observing from my hotel room and then after about 10 minutes, I hear a huge BOOM and about 150 meters away a major fire erupts and escalating quickly. What is going on here? Is this a battle to start? Was that a grenade? I was tempted to go down and observe as a natural reaction, but that would have been exactly the wrong thing to do.
On the other side of the hotel, looking back at the beach. I saw some people on the beach. What are they doing? They were police that had deployed on horses to examine and search every possible hiding spot, water pool, or location where the terrorist could be hiding.
It took all night for them to find the terrorist. It was so ODD to see the beach still EMPTY on a Friday morning when there is usually hundreds of people out then the sun came out. They did not return to normal until the police and found and killed the terrorist in Jaffa later that morning. Yep, the Jaffa area that I ran to a few days ago in this blog posting.
Why didn’t I take more pictures during all the chaos? or videos? I guess I became focused on the mission at hand and that was more important. I am very thankful for my company being extremely proactive in reaching out as everything unfolded to ensure my safety and determine if any assistance was needed.
Summary: a very unique travel experience, but very thankful for how well it was handled and I have not changed any of my perceptions or probability of risks from the event. I will continue to travel for business and vacation and this is just one experience of many that we will encounter in life.