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Man who ran over policewoman identified as soccer club manager

Hapoel Petah Tikva’s Ofer Tzabari was found in a jeep with a minor when he tried to flee

Hapoel Petah Tikva soccer team manager Ofer Tzabari arrives to his hearing at the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court on November 28, 2014. (Photo credit: FLASH90)
Hapoel Petah Tikva soccer team manager Ofer Tzabari arrives to his hearing at the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court on November 28, 2014. (Photo credit: FLASH90)

A man who ran over a police officer while trying to flee on Thursday evening in Bat Yam as police tried to detain him for being in the car, partially undressed, with a 17-year-old boy, was identified Friday as Hapoel Petah Tikva soccer manager Ofer Tzabari.

The incident prompted a police chase in which Tzabari, 54, was caught and arrested.

The policewoman, Noy Zeitoun, 19, was moderately hurt in the incident. She sustained injuries to her lower body and was transferred to Wolfson hospital after receiving initial treatment at the scene by Magen David Adom paramedics. She was released from the hospital Friday.

Tzabari and the youth both claim any sexual acts were consensual and that the two met via a dating website, Israel Radio reported. But police are investigating whether the soccer club manager committed sexual offenses against other minors, the report said.

On Friday, the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court extended Tzabari’s remand until Sunday. He is accused of assaulting a police officer, causing bodily harm and endangering public safety, charges denied by Tzabari’s lawyer.

Hapoel Petah Tikva’s coach Idan Bar-On and Tzabari’s wife were both in court on Friday. She insisted he is “a normal man… who wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

The incident began Thursday evening when a police patrol car noticed a parked jeep with its windows steamed up, which raised their suspicions. A police officer opened the car door to find Tzabari, who is married, partially naked and seemingly committing a sexual act with the minor, according to reports.

The minor exited the car at the request of police, at which point Tzabari tried to flee, driving off in his jeep.

The police officers were able to catch up to the jeep as it got stuck in traffic. The policewoman, Zeitoun, opened the door again and tried to pull Tzabari out but he floored the gas pedal and was able to get away, according to reports, even as other officers opened fire.

Tzabari was located an hour later and arrested.

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