A man who last week rammed his car into two soldiers, a border guard and a civilian in the northern city of Acre will remain in custody for another week, the Acre District Court ruled Wednesday.
Judges accepted the request by police, who said in a statement that “findings from the initial investigation, combined with viewing footage from the ramming scenes, reinforced the suspicion that this was a terror attack carried out under nationalistic motives.”
The suspect, 26, from the Arab Israeli town of Shfaram, is suspected of multiple counts of attempted murder.
At approximately 11:30 a.m. on March 4, he drove his car into one victim near the Acre city market. He 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 four 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.
In one video from the alleged attack, the driver 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.
The suspect’s attorney, Adel Dabbah, told a local Arabic-language news outlet last week that the ramming was not a terror attack, but a “traffic accident.”
Eyewitnesses said the ramming appeared to have been prompted by road rage over a parking ticket. The suspect had dropped his eight-month-pregnant wife off at a nearby clinic for a checkup. When he came out, he received a fine for NIS 1,000 ($290) for parking in a handicap spot.
“He got annoyed and went up on the sidewalk [and] then struck a traffic light and some bushes and ran over a border guard,” eyewitness Shimon Cohen told the Ynet news site.
The suspect’s attorney said that, if nothing else, that proves that it was not a premeditated terror attack.
“Maybe there was anger by my client, but it was not planned,” Dabbah said.
The lawyer also noted that suspect’s family has a history of supporting Israel, with some members having served in the Israel Defense Forces.
“In no way can the police claim that the incident is nationalistic, just because the suspect is an Arab. Anyone who knows his family knows the certainty that the incident cannot be nationalistic or anything close to it. Some of them served in the army,” he said.
Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.