As Israel works to make contact with Israelis known to have been in Barcelona during deadly terror attack, witnesses recall macabre scenes of when terror followed them to Spain, reflect on the panic that ensued, say they are frightened to speak Hebrew in public; meanwhile, Israeli woman injured in Barcelona attack arrives at Israeli hospital Friday lightly wounded.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry announced Friday that it had yet to establish contact with three Israelis since a deadly terror attack took place Thursday evening in which a van slammed into a crowd of pedestrians in the city, killing 13 and wounding scores.
By Friday afternoon, no Israeli fatalities or injuries were known to the authorities either in the car-ramming attack in the Las Ramblas district or in a separate attack that took place just hours later in Cambrils in which five terrorists were shot dead after running over six civilians and a police officer.
Meanwhile, Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva reported Friday that an Israeli woman who was wounded in Thursday's terrorist attack in Barcelona arrived at Sorkoa on Thursday for treatment. The woman is reported to be suffering from light wounds dispersed throughout her body.
As police continue a large scale manhunt for the driver of the Las Ramblas attack, Israelis who witnessed the attack are still digesting the harrowing moments of when terror struck Spain’s picturesque tourist attraction.
Some rushed to catch the first flight back to Israel, while others chose to continue their vacation in Spain and in other European destinations.
Gabi Ben Gida from Bat Hefer was among the Israelis travelling around Barcelona when the attack took place. “The streets in the city have been opened but there is a security presence in every corner,” Gida said after the worst of the macabre scenes had concluded.
Gida added that he and his family are reluctant to speak Hebrew in public for fear are becoming targets.
“We don’t speak Hebrew in the street because we fear for our lives. Many Muslims were sitting with us in the restaurants and we didn’t want to stand out. We are leaving here and heading for another area in Spain and we are supposed to come back to Barcelona in a week. We are apprehensive about our trip in Europe,” Gida admitted.
“We went through an extremely frightening experience. It has had a big impact on my daughter. We couldn’t sleep all night,” he added.
Noam, 15, and Maya Segev, 12, also visited Barcelona in the last week with their parents and were inundated with messages from concerned friends and family. “We received loads of phone calls and SMS messages from Israel and we had to calm everyone down,” the two sisters said.
Limor Hason, who was in Restaurant Maccabi with her husband and children near the scene of the Barcelona attack recalled the panic that permeated the area.
“I am on holiday with my husband and children. We went to eat with another 70-80 Israelis. We were closed in there for more than an hour-and-a-half,” she told Channel 2 News.
“A woman came into the restaurant and yelled ‘Attack! Attack!’ We realized that there was a terror attack and we shut ourselves in. We came to eat a kosher meal and this is what happened. We thought it was a suicide bomber so we got under the tables with our children.”
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman commented Friday morning on the two attack, saying that they were yet another frightening attempt by radical Islam to harm free nations of the world and to disrupt the regular lives of their populations.
“This terror will be defeated by the the Western states, Israel being among them, together, by the continued integration of forces around the world and the strengthening of security and intelligence cooperation,” Lieberman said.
“We are all obliged to fight back with resolve and determination not only against terror operations, but also against those who send them, against those who fund them and those who inspire them,” he added before sending his condolences to the families of those killed in the attack and wishing a speedy recovery to those wounded. “Our hearts are with Spain and its citizens in this difficult hour.”
Tamar Shabakm Itamar Eichner and Avivit Tzanti contributed to this report.