A rocket attack that sent a delegation of Canadian parliamentarians scurrying for cover in Jerusalem on Tuesday night turned out to be far from a panic-induced terror, two MPs from Newfoundland and Labrador said.
"Life goes on. Today's a new day," Gerry Byrne, a Liberal who represents the western Newfoundland riding of Humber–St. Barbe–Baie Verte, told CBC News on Wednesday.
Members of the group were watching a presentation at the Tower of David Museum when sirens sounded, triggering a response that Byrne and fellow Liberal MP Yvonne Jones described as orderly. They were sequestered in a tomb for about 10 or 15 minutes.
"There were Muslims and Jews, Arabs and Israelis, that were in that room," Byrne told The St. John's Morning Show.
"You'd think that at a particular point in time like that the tensions may have been somewhat escalated as a result. [But] it was very calm, it was very peaceful, it was very rational," said Byrne, adding he took his cues from others in the room.
"There was good order. In fact, at no point in time did I ever feel as though I was in immediate danger, other than the obvious. My own nerves were calmed substantially."
The rockets were believed to have been fired from inside the Gaza Strip, "presumably by Hamas," Byrne said.
'There was a little scare'
Jones, who represents the riding of Labrador, said the experience was unnerving but also illuminating.
"There was a little scare last evening, [but] we have been assured by the organizers and the people who are hosting us here that we are quite safe,” said Jones, one of a group of MPs hosted by the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.
"In coming here, obviously, I did some briefings, but nothing ever prepares you for the situation that you often experience when you're in the middle of turmoil like this," Jones told Labrador Morning.
Byrne said he found it remarkable that the delegation took shelter in an ancient structure that has been used in countless ways over the years.
"We were in a museum that provided shelter for the people of Jerusalem and whoever occupied it at the time for 2,700 years," he said.