The suspect in a Tuesday car-ramming that killed a police volunteer in the northern city of Nahariya was remanded for eight days on Wednesday.
The suspect was named as contractor Nasim Sah, 44, from the Lower Galilee city of Arraba. He is the former owner of the Ahva Arraba soccer club, which is no longer active.
Prosecutors are accusing Sah of negligent homicide, abandonment of his victims, and disruption of court proceedings.
Sah’s attorney indicated during the Haifa Magistrate’s Court hearing that the defense team will argue that the incident was an accident.
Police representative Lior Harari argued during the hearing: “This is one of the most difficult incidents the Israel Police has experienced. [The suspect] rammed two police officers, one died and the other is fighting for his life in the hospital. He did it knowingly, and he escaped.”
According to an unsourced report from Channel 13 news, Sah has a criminal record from a previous conviction for transporting workers from the West Bank to illegally work in Israel.
Police said that the two-man police team had arrived at the Nahariya site in the morning, after residents complained of noise and work being done during the Sukkot holiday. The work was part of a project to improve flood defenses in the city. The team also began questioning Palestinian workers at the site to check whether they were in the country legally.
The workers called Sah, who entered into a confrontation with the police. He then allegedly entered his car and ran them over. Eyewitnesses told Hebrew media that he then reversed and ran over the two policemen again before fleeing. He was arrested several hours later, as was another suspect.
The Kan public broadcaster said that Sah had admitted to driving the offending car, but claimed he never noticed hitting anyone. The report said that officials were investigating whether the attack was premeditated.
Sah has been reported to be a building contractor and the brother of the owner of the company carrying out the construction work.
Channel 13 reported that police were also expected to check whether officials overseeing the operation had known that the construction work was being done during a holiday, as well as whether they were aware that illegal workers were being used.
Police on Tuesday night arrested two Palestinian illegal workers suspected of being accomplices in the ramming who were allegedly at the construction site in the northern city.
Police nabbed the two suspects along with nine other illegal workers near Jerusalem in the evening. The two were taken for questioning. A third suspected accomplice is still at large.
The police volunteer killed was named as 32-year-old Hossam Zaghir, a Druze father of two from the town of Yarka in the north of Israel. Police said that he had been volunteering since 2016.
Zaghir’s uncle told Kan that his nephew volunteered to work the shift so that a Jewish colleague could celebrate the Jewish festival of Sukkot.
Zaghir was set to be buried at 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Police initially investigated the incident as a potential nationalistic attack, but later said that it appeared to be criminal in nature.