The wife of a policeman who inadvertently opened their home to one of the terrorists in Wednesday’s Tel Aviv attack, before realizing his mistake and rushing back to arrest him, said her husband feared he would “find us all dead.”
According to Ofri Hefetz-Grady, her husband said those panicked seconds after realizing who he had let into his home were “the longest of his life.”
The two Palestinian terrorists, Khalid and Muhammad Muhamra, went on a deadly shooting spree at Sarona Market in central Tel Aviv on Wednesday night, killing four Israelis and wounding more than a dozen. One of the two was shot and detained at the scene; the other fled — and ended up in Hefetz-Grady’s apartment building.
“We were sitting and eating ice-cream [near the scene of the attack],” said Hefetz-Grady, herself the daughter of a former chief of police, told Channel 10. “Suddenly we heard shooting. I saw lots of people running towards us.”
She saw one of the gunmen being shot by a security guard some distance away.
“We ran very, very quickly from the scene,” Hefetz-Grady said. When they entered their apartment building nearby, they encountered the second gunman, now unarmed. They were unaware that he was one of the terrorists.
The man, who had fled the scene along with the panicked crowds, was wearing a suit and tie. He was “fearful, shaking, could barely breathe… could barely stand on his feet,” she said. Asked about his identity, the man responded with one word: “Water.”
Hefetz-Grady said he appeared to be “in complete shock.”
She, her husband, her mother and her mother’s partner — a former senior Mossad officer — entered the couple’s apartment along with the frightened man. “Out of concern for a civilian, we allowed him into our home.”
Hefetz-Grady gave the man water while her husband dashed back out. He “took his police cap and a gun and ran out,” she said.
She recalled that the attacker barely spoke a word, and when she asked if he spoke English or Hebrew, he simply muttered, “No, no” in English and then fell silent.
“We thought he looked like everyone else running away from the scene of the attack,” she said.
Hefetz-Grady said her guest’s behavior seemed odd, and she pointed this out this to her mother’s partner. “We began to feel that something wasn’t right,” she said.
Meanwhile, her husband, who had intended to rush back to the scene of the shootings in Sarona, came across the site where the second gunman had been shot and wounded, not far from the couple’s home.
“He looks at [the subdued terrorist] and sees that he’s wearing exactly the same thing as the man we let into the house,” she said. The two gunmen were dressed in matching suits and ties.
“The moment he sees this, he realizes what — who — is actually in our home,” she said.
Her husband raced back to the apartment. When he burst in, the terrorist was still sitting on a chair in the living room.
“My husband opens the door with his gun drawn, puts it to [the terrorist’s] head, lowers him down to the floor.”
Hefetz-Grady, whose father Assaf Hefetz was police commissioner from 1994-97, brought handcuffs from another room, and the terrorist was restrained.
“Those were the longest 20 seconds in my husband’s life,” she said. “He was sure he would come in and find us all dead. We saw the relief on his face when it was all over.”
When other police officers arrived at the apartment, one of them accidentally discharged his weapon, and a ricochet from the shot hit Hefetz-Grady’s husband in the thigh. He was treated for light wounds.
Hefetz-Grady says they were lucky to have survived.
“I do my best to remember the great miracle we experienced,” she said.