Turkish Embassy Hands Over Palestinian Hostage Taker After 6-hour Standoff

Palestinian man seeking asylum from 'murdering Jews' storms embassy in Tel Aviv; Turkish Foreign Ministry: He tried to abduct the vice consul.

Security guards captured a Palestinian who entered the Turkish embassy in Israel on Tuesday trying to take hostages and demanding asylum, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Police officers outside the Turkish Embassy in Tel Aviv yesterday.
Moti Milrod

The attacker, lightly wounded by gunfire in the legs, was still inside the building six hours after he broke in, with Israeli police and rescue services kept outside by Turkish embassy officials. Just before midnight, the man was released by the embassy officials and evacuated to a nearby hospital by ambulance.

"Our embassy guards neutralized the individual as he tried to take the vice consul as hostage after shouting around for asylum," the statement said, adding he was armed with a knife, a gasoline can and a gun that turned out to be a toy.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor identified the attacker as
Nadim Injaz, a Palestinian from the West Bank town of Ramallah. Israel Police officials said Injaz was recently released from prison after serving time for an attack on the British embassy four years ago.

Local media reported that Injaz had taken two hostages and had threatened "to kill any Jews" who entered. Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor confirmed Tuesday that the attacker had briefly held hostages.

Channel 2 played a recording of a phone call it said came from the attacker. "I have two hostages," he said in Hebrew. "I will blow up the embassy."

A lawyer told Israel Radio, however, that the hostages, the consul and his wife, had escaped.

In his call to Channel 2, Injaz went on, "If they don't let me leave this country now I will burn down the whole building. I will burn everything. I will burn the cars, the doors I will break down the doors. I will break everything."

He said he was demanding asylum and protection from "these murderers the
Zionists, the murdering Jews." At the same time, he said that Palestinian leaders, including President Mahmoud Abbas, "should die."

Police and emergency medical personnel rushed to the scene, and helicopters could be heard circling overhead in the area. Yarkon Street, the main beachfront road where the embassy is located, has been closed off to traffic. Embassy staff reportedly barred police and medical personnel from entering the building. 

Turkish embassy shooting
Moti Milrod

The police asked the Foreign Ministry for assistance in obtaining entry to the embassy, as it was unknown whether there were any other casualties.

The Foreign Ministry said that their calls to the Turkish embassy went unanswered and that the embassy staff was awaiting further instructions from Ankara, and holding the attacker in the meantime.

Relations between the once strong allies Turkey and Israel have been under considerable strain over the past 18 months, since Ankara leveled fierce criticism at Israel for a three-week military operation in the Gaza Strip which began in late December 2008.

Ties were put under further pressure in May, when Israel Defense Forces troops boarded a Turkish-owned boat that was part of a flotilla aiming to break the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip. Nine Turkish nationals were killed in ensuing the clashes, sparking a furious reaction from Turkey.

Four years ago, Injaz barricaded himself inside the British embassy in Tel Aviv, claiming to be armed. He threatened to shoot himself in the head if he wasn't granted asylum in Britain.

A negotiations team spoke to the man and discovered that he had a criminal record, and had worked as an informant in the service of the Israel Police.

After a SWAT team subdued Injaz they discovered that he had been armed with a toy gun.