Benny Belevsky, the bus driver on the 392 Egged bus that was attacked by terrorists on Thursday en route from Beersheba to Eilat, was able to prevent a tragedy from turning into a catastrophe by taking swift action in real time.
Witnesses say the 60-year-old driver continued to drive through the hail of gunfire, doing his best to escape the terrorists. Passengers on the bus also reported a few soldiers on board fired back at the terrorists as the bus sped away.
Full coverage of the attacks:
Just before Netafim junction I heard gunfire," the driver told Ynet. "The bullets hit the bus and two of them shattered the window near me, passed just above my head and hit the ceiling. I am experienced enough to know that I should keep driving and that I mustn't stop so that the damage doesn't get worse."
Belevsky added that the passengers panicked, and that some of them were hurt, but he knew he had to get to the IDF checkpoint at Netafim. "It was scary – you never think something like this will happen to you. But I did what I had to do," he said.
The packed bus was filled with passengers, mostly on their way to a pleasant summer vacation. "The driver accelerated and was able to prevent a much more serious outcome," one said.
Some passengers also reported seeing three people open fire on the bus.
An IDF officer onboard the bus said she heard an explosion followed by glass being shattered. "We realized it was a terror attack," she said. "Everyone hit the floor. There were Air Force medics on the bus, and they began to treat the wounded immediately."
Sarah, a passenger from Lod traveling with her husband and two children in their private car, said they suddenly noticed a man dressed as a soldier lying down on the floor. Seconds later, she claimed, the terrorist opened fire at them.
"We were lucky nothing happened to us," said Sarah. "The children were only lightly wounded by shattered glass, and are being treated at the hospital right now."
Ezra Arbeli contributed to this report