TEL AVIV, Israel — A frightening phone call put the Tel Aviv Police Department on high alert Monday evening, sending the entire force into a frenzy. Cops went searching for a would-be suicide bomber, combing through the north-central part of the city. This after a Tel Aviv PD dispatcher got a bizarre call from a man with an Arabic accent claiming to be a terrorist.
After the caller explained he was about to blow himself up in Israel’s largest metropolis, the man said he changed his mind, but wasn’t sure what to do with the bomb still strapped to his body. “I came to commit a suicide bombing,” he told the stunned dispatcher on the other end of the line. “But I have things on my body and I don’t know what to do.”
And just when it seemed this couldn’t get any weirder, the man, who sounded frightened, added, “My mom told me, ‘Don’t do it, don’t do it.’ And eventually I decided not to do anything. And I want to go home, that’s all.”
When the dispatcher asked for his exact location, the man quickly hung up.
A high level source in the Tel Aviv Police Department said, “We’re not taking any risks this time. Tel Aviv has a long history of suicide bombers.”
Earlier Monday, tensions reached a new high in Jerusalem, which saw its first deadly attack in more than three years.
At 1:52 P.M. Monday local time a man driving a road construction backhoe, or digger, flipped over a bus, killing one civilian and injuring five others. The terrorist was shot dead by a correctional officer who happened to be nearby. About an hour later, a gunman dressed in black shot a 20-year-old soldier at a hitchhiking station near Hebrew University in East Jerusalem, wounding him seriously, then got on a motorcycle that was waiting for him and fled the scene. A nearby security guard shot at the suspect, but missed. The gunman is still at large.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum praised the attack calling it “a courageous act of resistance” and a “natural response to the occupier’s massacres of our people in Gaza.”
“This takes us 15 years back when dozens of Palestinian suicide bombers exploded all over the country,” said Nisan Zeevi, an Israeli crisis management consultant. “Hamas has been trying trying to drag the West Bank into the current war, so far unsuccessfully. Hopefully this is not an indication of things getting worse, but just the act of a few citizens following Hamas’ call to action.”
A high-ranking officer in Israel’s security forces told The Daily Beast that so far there are no indications a terrorist offensive is taking shape in the West Bank due to the war in Gaza, even though last week Hamas’s Barhum put out a call to all West Bank residents who own “cars, motorcycles, knives, batons, bulldozers and trucks” to run over Israelis, saying, “Anyone who has those things and doesn’t run over a Jew or settler and doesn’t kill tens of Zionists doesn’t belong in Palestine.”
It’s been more than six years since the last time a man from East Jerusalem deliberately rammed a bulldozer into a bus in Jerusalem. Two weeks later, 24 people were injured when another Palestinian, also from East Jerusalem, plowed a bulldozer into five vehicles before being killed.