A Palestinian man has been arrested on suspicion of trying to cause an explosion in central Jerusalem by tampering with gas tanks and piping and then throwing a lit cigarette into the fumes.
A gag order was lifted Monday after a preliminary indictment was served on the man — an East Jerusalem resident in his 30s — accusing him of willful damage to property, attempted arson and attempted destruction of property with explosive material.
Police requested that he be detained until the end of proceedings against him, on the grounds that he had “attempted to harm innocent people.”
Initially, the man was suspected of having tried to commit a terror act for nationalist reasons. It then emerged that he was just drunk, Channel 2 News reported.
The incident took place on March 4 on Aristobulus Street, a side street which runs parallel to the Jaffa Road thoroughfare. The targeted pub, which was crowded at the time, is in an alley named Dhu Nuwas Street. The area combines residential housing with popular entertainment spots.
Pub workers called police and the fire service after noticing a strong smell of gas.
Police closed off the area and the fire service dealt with the gas leak.
Security cameras and forensic tips led investigators to arrest the suspect about a week ago.
Footage shows the man trying the back door to the pub but finding it locked.
The fire service said that tampering with 48 kilogram (106 pound) gas tanks and damaging their pipes “could have led to a huge explosion and harmed revelers in the pub and residents in nearby buildings.”
Omri Avraham, who headed the fire team at the site, said a hole in the gas piping indicated that this was not a normal gas leak. Seven gas tanks were installed behind the pub.