At 7:15 a.m. Tuesday morning, inhabitants of the quiet West Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Nof were woken up by the sound of gunshots and sirens. Two Palestinians armed with knives, axes, and a gun entered the Kehillat Yaakov synagogue where worshippers were in the middle of prayer and attacked them, killing four and injuring another seven.
United Hatzalah’s volunteers were informed about a shooting shortly after the first shots rang out and the volunteers living in the neighborhood began to race towards the location. Among the first on scene to give medical treatment to the injured was United Hatzalah Paramedic Yanki Erlich. As he bent down to check on the first victim, he suddenly heard gunshots fired in his direction. In a desperate attempt to jump to safety from the gunfire, he slipped on a puddle of blood and fell, breaking his leg. With great effort, he still managed to drag himself to safety.
EMT Avi Nefosi arrived from around the corner and found himself taking cover behind his car as the gunfight raged overhead and additional police reinforcements raced to the scene. By the time the police declared it safe for medical rescue forces to enter the scene, dozens of United Hatzalah volunteers were on scene. Avi relayed to United Hatzalah headquarters as he entered the scene, “I see one terrorist, neutralized, dead, one police officer lightly wounded in the leg, two people dead, I have someone alive, I need more people on the inside.”
Joining him on the sweep of the building was United Hatzalah physician Dr. Joyce Morrel. After entering the synagogue and attending to those who needed help, she bent down to one of the casualties still lying on the ground, and covered him with his prayer shawl, in which, just a few moments before, he began to pray, suspecting nothing.
“As a medic and an inhabitant of the neighborhood, I got to the scene among the first,” says United Hatzalah volunteer Eli Pollak. “First I had to hide under my car since shots were still fired. After the all-clear from the police I could enter the building and face the scene, see the injured and the bodies, some of whom I knew, still in their prayer shawls and tefillin. It was one of the cruelest scenes I have ever witnessed.”