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Baby saved seconds before mother crushed

JERUSALEM — Jeremy Aronson ignored the danger of the approaching bulldozer on July 2 afternoon to pluck a baby out of a car seat before the car was crushed with the mother, 33-year-old Batsheva Onterman, still inside.

“Just as I took the baby out, he reversed on top of the car. The baby is okay, but not the mother,” Aronson told the Jerusalem Post quietly as he sat alone in the waiting room of Hadassah-University Hospital in Mount Scopus.

Onterman, who was a kindergarten teacher at Ganei Homat Shmuel, initially had difficulty conceiving a child and had undergone two years of fertility treatments, friends told the Post at her funeral late July 2 in the Givat Shmuel cemetery.

“She was a unique person,” said a parent of one of her students.

The director of her school in Har Homa, Ilan Kaminetsky, said they did yet know how to tell Onterman’s students that she had died.

He added that he believed Onterman had helped lift her baby out of the car to hand to a passerby.

Aronson, 28, of England, who took the baby was unhurt by the attack, other than a small cut on his right hand. He was on the scene from the very beginning, because he was walking to the Central Bus Station as the bulldozer tore through the street.

“I saw people running away, and I didn’t understand why,” he said. “Then I saw the bulldozer driving into people, driving into cars. I didn’t understand what was happening. I didn’t understand it was a suicide [terror attack].”

Despite Aronson’s initial confusion, he was able to act quickly. He taped the terrorist attack and ensuing car crashes on his cellphone, which was later taken as evidence by the police.

“I saw the tractor going on top of the cars, and I saw the police trying to kill [the terrorist],” Aronson said. “The shooting didn’t get him, so he kept driving on top of the cars” — including the vehicle with Onterman and her baby, Efrat.

The car, a white station wagon, could be seen strewn in pieces on Jaffa Road, with diapers and baby toys falling out of its broken side.

A body bag, presumably containing Onterman’s corpse, sat near the car as emergency crews went on to assist other wounded in the area. Efrat was taken by rescue crews and transferred to Shaare Zedek Hospital. She was later given to her father Ido.

Efrat was the second baby to arrive among the dozens of wounded who were rushed into the emergency room there. Doctors and nurses were able to reunite the first baby, Ofir Sinai, with her mother, Shani, even as they discovered that Efrat had lost her mother.

Pausing for a moment to cry, Shani Sinai thanked G-d that she and her baby had been saved.

“We were riding on the No. 13 bus,” she said to a crowd of reporters as she stepped out of the emergency room. “I looked out the window and saw people running alongside the bus. I had no idea what was going on, I couldn’t understand why they were running. Then the bus flipped over and we flew into the windows.”

As she spoke, Sinai clutched seven-month-old Ofir in her arms, which were cut and scratched from glass that had scattered throughout the bus as it toppled.

“I grabbed her head,” Sinai said, glancing down at the baby. “It was just a natural instinct to protect my baby’s head.”
Sinai and her daughter were seen leaving the hospital with her husband on July 2, as news crews followed her out the door.

“Thank G-d we’re okay and healthy,” she said as Ofir grabbed at a cup of water in her hand. “You can see she’s healthy,” Sinai continued, flashing a brief smile of relief.

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