Israeli singer Gad Elbaz narrowly escaped the Sydney siege, by leaving the Lindt café a couple of minutes before a gunman took people hostage, writes Suzanne Baum.
The 32-year-old singer – who is on tour in Australia – had been drinking coffee in the café with his father Benny and members of his tour crew before preparing to fly to Melbourne for a performance.
“We had been in the café for around 45 minutes and by a stroke of luck we rushed to leave to catch a flight,” explained Elbaz, who is best known for his Israeli Number 1 hit Halayla Zeh Hazman.
“I didn’t see anything strange in the café apart from the fact it was jam-packed with people who were meeting friends or having a morning coffee before work.
“I am absolutely freaking out that I could have been there and it is a Chanukah miracle that we left when we did.”
On hearing that he missed the siege by the skin of his teeth, Elbaz said he was “in complete shock.
“However, I was determined not to cancel my show as I didn’t want to let anyone down. I sang my heart out today like never before and just pray that the staff who served us and the many hostages will be released safely.”
Australia’s Jewish community has been told to remain vigilant as a suspected jihadist struck fear into the heart of Sydney on Monday morning.
Precautionary measures being taken included trip cancellations and the closure of several Jewish institutions, as the crisis unfolded.
The Community Security Group, which coordinates security and emergency arrangements for Australian Jewry, told residents to be on high alert and to report any suspicious activity or objects.
“The fact that someone has perpetrated an event like this, it has caused a heightened level of vigilance for our community,” said Steve Lieblich, Director of Public Affairs at the Jewish Community Council of Western Australia. “We are on level 5 of 6 alert levels.”
The perpetrator asked for an ISIS flag but was given a black flag with standard wording of the declaration of the Muslim faith.