The column of armored SUVs waited, engines humming, as a phalanx of bodyguards ushered Prime Minister Ariel Sharon into the third truck from the end. As the convoy cleared the main gate of the Israeli government head's residence, a set of decoy vehicles turned north, toward Jerusalem, while the remaining units proceeded south toward the Negev, where Sharon planned to tour absorption sites being built for hundreds of Israeli families soon to be evacuated from their Gaza Strip homes.
For Sharon, the site inspections this spring were a welcome excursion beyond his Jerusalem office compound or his Negev ranch. But for officers charged with protective security, the outing rivaled an elite combat operation.
The crowd that turned out in a driving rain last Sunday evening to hear experts discuss the terrorist threat was testament to at least one ongoing fact of life since Sept. 11: we're still scared.