Standoff at the Turkish Embassy in Israel

Standoff at the Turkish Embassy in Israel

TEL AVIV (Agence France Presse)—A man carrying a knife and a toy gun broke into the Turkish embassy in Tel Aviv on Tuesday and attempted to take a diplomat hostage before being overpowered by security, Turkish officials said.

Witnesses quoted by Israeli public radio said the man, thought to be mentally deranged, had been shot and wounded in the leg.

No one from the embassy staff was hurt.

The man was reportedly the same one who was seized by Israeli police four years ago after he entered the compound of the British embassy in Tel Aviv, threatening to commit suicide if he were not granted asylum.

The man climbed to the first storey of the mission, smashed a window and broke in, “carrying a knife, a jerry can and a gun which later turned out to be a toy,” the Turkish foreign ministry said in Ankara.

He “began shouting about wanting an asylum and attempted to take the deputy consul hostage before being overpowered by the embassy’s security staff,” it said.

“The person is being questioned by our side,” the statement added.

“We are trying to establish the identity of the person — a male — and understand what his intentions were,” a Turkish diplomat told AFP.

The diplomat could not say how long the man would be held at the mission.

“This person stormed into Turkish territory and attempted to take one of our diplomats hostage … Naturally, we will have contacts with the Israeli authorities,” he said.

Popular Israeli news site Ynet said “Turkish embassy personnel have informed the police that the man, arrested by embassy security guards, will be taken under police guard to Tel Aviv’s Ishilov hospital.

Public radio quoted witnesses as saying “a man, apparently a mentally disturbed Arab Israeli demanded to be allowed into the Turkish embassy and committed an indecent act or some sort of provocation.”

The same sources said “a shot fired from the second floor of the embassy rang out, and the man was only wounded in the leg.”

An Israeli police spokesman had said a man had been shot and killed near the embassy, and it was unclear if this was the same man.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld later said there was “great confusion over the circumstances of shooting that took place” in the embassy.

Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Ygal Palmor later said contacts were underway with the embassy and that “we can only wait.”

“In the end, it is possible they might decide to grant him political asylum. It is also possible they will turn him over to Israeli authorities.

For his part, Arab Israeli lawyer Shafi Abwani said he had been “in contact with the Turkish consul and his wife, who were in the embassy when the man came in.”

“It is a man who says he is being pursued by Shin Bet (Israel’s domestic security agency) and the Palestinian security services. I tried to calm him down over the telephone, and the Turkish consul and his wife managed to escape.”

He said the man, whom he knows, is from the West Bank city of Ramallah and had asked that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan grant him asylum.

He did not name the man, but Israeli public radio identified him as Nadim Injaz, who would be the same man involved in the British embassy incident in August 2006.

In that case, Injaz also carried a toy gun and threatened to kill himself. After eight hours of negotiations, special forces intervened and overpowered him.

Ynet quoted police as saying Injaz had collaborated with Israeli security services in the past.

And it quoted a Palestinian source as saying Injaz has been wanted for several years on charges of treason and collaboration with Israel and had fled to Tel Aviv to escape from Palestinian security forces.

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