Israeli Entertainer Left Sydney Cafe as Terrorists Arrived
A popular Israeli father and son singing duo, Benny and Gad Elbaz, had left the Lindt Cafe in downtown Sydney shortly before at least one terrorist entered the building, and took dozens hostage, Ynet News said Monday.
The father, Benny, noted in a Facebook post that, “The worst almost happened! A few minutes before the attack on the cafe in Sydney, my friends and I left there,” characterizing their narrow escape as a “Hanukkah miracle,” according to Chabad Online.
Two Israelis living in the city said that panicky residents and officials, unfamiliar with coping with terror attacks, were struggling to carry on a normal daily routine.
Daniel Gronshiin, 21, who now lives in Sydney, said that the event is being felt throughout the entire city.
“Everyone’s panicked, they’re not used here to such situations as in Israel. Police have closed roads, tunnels, schools and shopping centers in the city center. I think it’s an exaggeration. Even when rockets were fired at Israel, you could still take the bus, but here everything’s completely paralyzed.”
Carmit Sharon, an Israeli working in a building next to the Lindt cafe, has lived in Sydney four years.
“I went to the office at 9am, and at 10, they announced to all the employees that there’s a terrorist downstairs, and closed down the building. Within a few minutes, there were dozens of police cars [outside]; it was very frightening.
“The police closed all roads in the area and stopped the trains,” she noted. “At first we thought this might be a criminal incident, but when the terrorist forced customers in the cafe to hang a black flag with Arabic writing on it, we realized it was a terrorist incident,” she said.
“I was trapped in the building for an hour and a half. I work in the highest building in the area and it is considered a high risk.” Sharon said that synagogues and Jewish centers were closed as a preventive measure.
In comment, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon offered Israel’s help, saying that, while “It is far, … there are things we can do from afar,” according to The Times of Israel.
“This seems to be another attack by an Islamist, jihadist organization, part of the phenomenon of the spread of global jihad, and the terrorism it brings to different places, which also reaches Australia,” Ya’alon told Israel Radio.