The two baby siblings lay on a pile of bodies
The staff of the children's ward at Jerusalem's Hadassah University Hospital Ein Karem thought they had seen it all. Three years of almost non-stop terror attacks and their appalling aftermath had hardened the hearts and stomachs of the doctors and nurses, dulling the sense of shock and horror. But a surprise awaited the team on Tuesday night, and none of them were prepared for it.
Just minutes after the attack, a newborn baby was wheeled out of one of the first ambulances to arrive at the hospital. "Whose baby is this?" they asked in the emergency ward, but no one knew. The infant's tiny body was searched, but no clues were found. His face was splattered with blood and his right arm was a seeping sore, cut by shrapnel.
The doctors quickly examined the infant and found that aside from the wounds to his arm, the baby was well.
Meanwhile, hundreds of people were streaming into the hospital's special waiting room for those who are searching for their loved ones. No one asked about the baby. Nearby, a one-and-a-half-year old girl was hospitalized, seriously injured by shrapnel that had pierced her body. Hundreds of cuts to her face made her virtually unrecognizable.
The two babies lay in the same hallway but no one knew that the baby girl, Shira Cohen, was the sister of the newborn, Elhanan Nereyeh Cohen, the unknown baby.
A few hours earlier, the two had been sitting with their family on a bus bound for Jerusalem's Har Nof neighborhood on their way back from the Western Wall. Elhanan was hungry and began to cry, but before his mother could feed him, the bus exploded.
The two babies, Elhanan and Shira, lay on the pile of bodies littering the bus floor, crying. Their parents were seriously injured, as were two of their older siblings. The parents were taken to the Shaare Zedek Medical Center and the babies to Ein Karem.
Naveh Berwarman, usually a midwife, at such a horrible time heads the nursing staff at the families' information center, which looks after relatives until their loved ones are located and identified, examined the babies for identifying signs. She managed to get Shira to say her name, but the infant remained nameless.
The numerous number of ultra-Orthodox hurt in this attack meant that in some cases it was incredibly difficult to identify the injured as strict rules of modesty among the community meant that in some cases, parents could not give intimate, identifying details of their children.
Berwarman was constantly concerned with the fate of the month-old bay. She had never seen such a young and helpless victim of a terror attack. The hospital intensively searched for the baby's parents, but to no avail.
In another part of town, a woman seriously injured in the attack meanwhile lay half conscious at Shaare Zedek. She somehow managed to summon the strength to tell the staff there that she had been holding her two youngest children when the bomb exploded - Elhanan on one arm and Shira on the other. She asked what had happened to them. "They're probably dead," she assumed.
At Ein Karem, they kept searching for some clue to the child's identity. "We discovered that he only has one kidney," says Berwarman, "but we did not know if his parents knew so we could not use this to identify him."
A few hours later, a man identifying himself as a neighbor of the Cohen family called. "There is a mother looking for her baby boy and girl who were in the attack and have disappeared," he told one of the nurses. "Are they with you?"
Berwarman spoke with the mother in the hospital who told her that the baby had a birthmark on his lower back. "We didn't find such a mark," says the midwife. The mother then told her that her son only has one kidney. Berwarman breathed a sigh of relief - the anonymous baby had found his sister and mother.