The driver of Egged Bus 392 was headed along Route 12, about 27 kilometers north of Eilat, when he saw the car up ahead signaling frantically. Benny Bilefsky slowed the bus, thinking there had been a traffic accident. But then he saw two Egyptian soldiers in camouflage uniforms doing something to the border fence just 15 meters from the road, where an Egyptian army post stands on the other side.
“I thought they were soldiers repairing the fence,” Bilefsky recalls. “I slowed a bit, and then I caught a hail of bullets.”
“I felt as if they were aiming right at me, because a bullet entered right by my head and shattered the glass that separates my seat from the passengers’ seats,” he said. “In the first seat behind me were two tourists who were hurt by shards of shattered glass, and then I heard a burst from an automatic weapon. I pressed down on the gas pedal, decided not to stop, took my telephone, dialed 100 and called the police.”
Bilefsky continued driving on Route 12 until he hit the permanent checkpoint at Netafim, 12 kilometers northwest of Eilat. An ambulance was waiting, and he unloaded his passengers; 31 of them were taken to the hospital. There, Bilefsky saw a large number of soldiers en route to the scene of the attack.
Bilefsky, 67, of Be’er Sheva, has worked for Egged for 44 years. He has spent the last 25 years driving Bus 392, he said, which mainly ferries soldiers between their homes in Eilat and their bases.
Thursday is the day when many soldiers return home for the weekend, “so the bus was already full when I left Be’er Sheva at 8:05 A.M., and some of the soldiers were even standing,” he recalls. “After the shooting, I looked in the mirror while I continued to drive, and I saw that the soldiers on the bus were treating the gunshot victims.”