The Petah Tikva Magistrate's Court on Tuesday extended the remand of the Palestinian man suspected of carrying out the recent terror attack in Tel Aviv, which left eight people wounded.
The court extended the man's remand by 10 days, despite the police's request that it will be extended by 15 days. The Petah Tikva court has imposed a gag order on the entire investigation, and the court hearing was held behind closed doors.
The attack came as the summer vacation comes to an end, a time when many parties are being held for young people in Tel Aviv's clubs. In the Tel Aviv Police District, police had taken precautions and deployed extra officers, mostly to prevent alcohol abuse and violence.
Prior to the start of the party at Haoman 17 on Abarbanel Street, attended by around 2,000 teens, officers decided to set up a roadblock at the junctions of Abarbanel and Salameh Street and to prevent entry of vehicles near the club. Other police forces were in the area looking for drunk drivers.
At 1:30 A.M., two Border Policemen saw a taxi heading toward the roadblock at high speed. The officers had just enough time to shout a warning to the people in the area, and then the cab hit them and a police patrol car.
The policemen at the scene initially thought they were witnessing a traffic accident involving a drunk driver, and approached the driver without drawing their weapons.
"At this point we had no idea that this was a terrorist attack," says Lior Chen, a Border Police officer present. "The officer who was with me went to the driver's door and opened it in order to evaluate the driver's condition. Suddenly the driver came out of the cab and began to stab the officer several times. The officer and another trooper fought him and brought him down."
At that point, the officers say it had become clear that this was a security-related incident. However, because the two Border Policemen were so close to the attacker, it was not possible to fire at him.
"He shouted 'Allahu Akbar' and was in a state of mania," a police source said. "All the people were quickly evacuated from the immediate area because there was concern that he or the taxi was booby-trapped. The target of the attacker was undoubtedly the club with the teenagers. We can also safely assume that had there not been police in the area, the incident would have ended badly," the source added.
Those injured in the incident were evacuated to the nearby Wolfson and Ichilov hospitals. One officer, a 34-year-old father of three, is in a serious condition.
Large numbers of police and a Shin Bet unit rushed to the area. Initial investigations have shown that the attacker was in Jaffa on the night of the attack, where he had been working in recent days.
Near Jaffa he took a taxi driven by Nahman Aji, and asked to be taken to the old Central Bus Station area. When they reached Salameh Street, "he suddenly told me that he needs the taxi," Aji told Haaretz.
"He said that he did not want to hurt me and then pulled out the knife he had. I tried to grab the knife but I was cut in the hand, which started bleeding. He did not swear or shout at me. He only said that he does not want to harm me and that he wants the taxi. I asked to take a few things and I took my bag and my GPS and left the cab. I was certain that he was stealing it to take to the territories. Had I know that he was a terrorist I would have attacked him, even if it would have meant my death," the cab driver said.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has publicly condemned the attack on Monday, saying the Palestinian Authority condemns all attacks against civilians, including the Tel Aviv incident.
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