Eight people were wounded in south Tel Aviv early Monday when a Palestinian man from the West Bank city of Nablus ran over policemen with a stolen taxi, exited the vehicle and stabbed additional people. The perpetrator was also lightly wounded as police struggled to arrest him.
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Tel Aviv District Commander Aharon Eksol said the attack was "definitely an act of terror".
The attack took place shortly after 1:30 A.M. outside the Haoman 17 club on the corner of Salame and Abarbanel streets in south Tel Aviv. At the time of the attack more than 2,000 people were partying at a major event inside the nightclub. Israel Border Police had been deployed on high alert to secure the event.
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One of the wounded people is in critical condition, two are moderately wounded and the rest are lightly wounded. The wounded were taken to Tel Aviv's Ichilov Hospital and Wolfson Medical Center, Holon.
Police arrested the perpetrator at the scene and are currently conducting investigations.
The suspect had entered the taxi in Yaffo and requested of the driver to take him to the old central bus station in Tel Aviv. Upon arrival, he lightly wounded the taxi driver by stabbing him in the hand and forced him out of the vehicle. He then drove to Salame Street near the Haoman 17 club, where he carried out the attack.
The suspect drove into a barrier that was set up by police in the streets surrounding the nightclub as part of routine security. Israel Border Police, who were securing the nightclub's event, went to assist the suspect – who they thought was a drunk driver – and were surprised when he drew a knife and stabbed a number of them.
Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said the suspect, aged in his 20's, shouted "Allahu Akbar" (God is greatest), as he struggled with police. The perpetrator was slightly injured by police as they attempted to arrest him, and was taken to Wolfson Medical Center, Holon.
Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino said investigations – currently underway – are revealing that the attack was premeditated.
"The terrorist is currently being interrogated and we are discovering that he planned the act in advance," said Danino.
Danino added, "Tonight's event gives us additional proof that that terrorists are still motivated to carry out attacks. There was a big event being celebrated tonight with many partygoers. The Israel Border Police deployment was exceptional and prevented a great tragedy. The terrorist attack ended with a relatively light outcome."
Danino also said "the police will continue to be on high alert."
Benny Shai, one of the club's employees who was outside the club at the time of the attack said, "We saw the taxi run into the barrier and we ran to help. We thought it was an accident." He added that the event taking place in the nightclub "was a big party".
"I don't want to know what would have happened if the terrorist had managed to enter or even get close to the entrance of the club and carry out his attack there", said Shai.
Israel last sustained a terror attack earlier this month when nine people were killed in a series of coordinated gun and missile strikes in the south.
Meanwhile, IDF Commander in Chief Benny Gantz ordered reinforcements south of Gaza Strip, as well as on the border with Egypt as a response to warnings of an upcoming terrorist attack by the Islamic Jihad. The reinforcements were coordinated with the Egyptian military.
Despite the fact that Israel's security services predict that the attack will be perpetrated by the Islamic Jihad, the IDF will hold Hamas responsible for any terror attack.