An Arab Israeli man who earlier this month rammed his car into two soldiers, a border guard and a civilian in the northern city of Acre was indicted on Thursday, after authorities determined the incident was a terror attack.
The Shin Bet security agency and the state prosecution were said to be debating whether to treat the incident as terrorism, with the suspect’s attorney insisting it had been a “traffic accident” and eyewitnesses suggesting it had merely been road rage over a parking ticket.
But on Thursday, the Shin Bet said that “investigation findings indicate that he committed the rammings out of a nationalistic-ideological motive,” and identified the man as 26-year-old Malik Yousef Nahar Asadi from Shfaram.
Asadi has been charged with five counts of attempted murder under Israel’s anti-terrorism law. The prosecution has asked the court to remand him until the end of court proceedings against him. All the victims were lightly wounded.
According to the indictment filed at the Haifa District Court, Asadi arrived at a medical clinic with his wife at approximately 11 a.m. on March 4. He stayed in the car while his wife went in, and blocked a sidewalk with his car.
Some 25 minutes later, policemen who came by issued a parking ticket and put it on his windshield. An angry Asadi exited the car and said “may [God] take you and your state” and re-entered his car, the charge sheet continues.
Asadi then saw a soldier looking at him, and “decided to kill soldiers by ramming his car into them out of a nationalistic and ideological motive.”
He drove until he saw the same soldier, accelerated and veered onto the sidewalk and hit him with the intention of killing him, the indictment said.
Asadi continued driving at great speed, hitting three more members of the security forces, and attempted to ram into two more soldiers, the indictment adds.
In one video from the incident, Asadi can be seen avoiding civilians who were standing near his car, while he appears to target two soldiers. In graphic security camera footage, the suspect could also be seen driving full speed into a serviceman as he crosses the street.
Earlier accounts of the incident said Asadi drove his car into one victim near the Acre city market and then continued down the street and hit two soldiers. A fourth victim, a 51-year-old man, was also hit by the vehicle, medics said. All were lightly injured.
Finally, an armed off-duty soldier who was at the scene shot the driver, seriously injuring him, near the Acre train station.
Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.