Terror in Tel Aviv? One man died and 17 people were injured in what police suspect was a terror attack in Tel AvivSunday morning, after a truck driving along Bar-Lev street hit and ran over several vehicles.
The fatality in the incident was identified as Aviv Morag, 29, from Givatayim.
The truck driver, 22-year-old Aslam Ibrahim Isa, from Kfar Kassem, was arrested and taken in for questioning, where he vehemently claimed that he did not set out to perform a terror attack, but rather simply lost control of the vehicle, after one of its tires blew.
The Dan Subdistrict Police formed a special task force to investigate the morning's events.
Initial findings suggest that the attack was not premeditated and that Isa was not tasked to perform it by any individual or organization.
Cars crushed, traffic lights hit (Photo: Ofer Amram)
Numerous ambulances rushed to the scene of the event Sunday morning and evacuated 17 victims to hospital. Most of the injured sustained light wounds and were taken to the Chaim Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center and the Edith Wolfson Medical Center in Holon.
The rampage began at the Mesubim junction along two kilometers of the Bar-Lev Road. Vehicles were smashed, traffic lights knocked over and security rails destroyed. Several buses were apparently hit. The truck eventually came to a halt near a school while many students and parents were present.
Police officials said a total of 15 vehicles were hit during the rampage and that the whole area was now sealed off. A group of bystanders gathered near the site and chanted "Death to Arabs."
"There are many question marks; this whole story is being investigated by all security agencies," Tel Aviv District Police Commander Aharon Aksol said. "I don't want to unequivocally say whether it was an attack or an accident. The facts will become clear with time."
Aksol added that police were currently questioning the truck driver, adding that while there are general terror warnings across Israel, no specific alerts were issued.
Magen David Adom Spokesman Zachi Heller said, "This morning we received a call about a truck that hit several vehicles at the street corner of Haim Bar-Lev and HaTayasim.
"A large team of paramedics and police vehicles arrived at the scene and treated several casualties. At the corner of HaTayasim, a vehicle crashed into a traffic light. The passenger was critically injured and after attempts to resuscitate him, he was pronounced dead," he said.
Truck near elementary school (Photo: Ofer Amram)
An eyewitness told Ynet, "A truck driver was driving like a madman. At first I though it was an accident or a driver who lost control of his vehicle, but based on the speed and insane manner in which he was driving, it was clearly an attack. It's scary that these things happen here.
"We yelled at him to stop, but he kept on going," she said.
"He was completely possessed," Yossi, another witness, told Israel Army Radio
Yet another witness, Shlomo said, "I saw the truck hurling cars like a game of bowling. When he saw the bus he crossed the junction and hit it and they both came under the bridge.
"Luckily, the bus was empty. A young man came off the truck, came towards me and yelled what sounded like 'Allahu Akbar.' He knocked over my phone. One girl who approached him was hurt, he hit her in the head with a traffic light. There are traffic lights scattered all over the road. Eventually an officer on a scooter came and caught him."
Path of destruction (Photo: Ofer Amram)
Sunday afternoon saw the police search Isa's home for any inciting materials. The suspect, who owns the truck used in the rampage, has no known criminal record and has never been involved in any events of criminal or nationalistic nature. Isa will be arraigned on Monday.
Meanwhile, east Jerusalem riots resumed on Sunday. Issawiya residents hurled stones at police forces near a gas station. No injuries were reported. One man was arrested.
Israeli security forces are on high alert Sunday ahead of events marking 'Nakba Day.'
The Police Department raised its alertness level and the Israel Defense Forces are prepared to face riots across the border, but security forces still estimate that the Palestinians have an interest in maintaining calm. The IDF imposed a complete closure on the West Bank.
Meital Yasur-Beit Or and Boaz Fyler contributed to this report