JERUSALEM, Aug. 29, 2011 -- A young Palestinian man stole a taxi in Tel Aviv this morning and plowed it into a police checkpoint outside a nightclub full of teenagers before jumping out and stabbing several bystanders. Nine peple were wounded, including four police officers.
Just before 2 a.m. this morning the man attacked a taxi driver with a knife and made off with his car. Minutes later, he slammed the vehicle into a police checkpoint set up to guard the entrance to the Haoman 17 club in south Tel Aviv where a party was in full swing.
After striking one police officer in a car, the 21 year-old man -- whose name was not released -- jumped out of the taxi, yelling in Arabic, "Allahu Akbar," God is great, according to Israeli police. Continuing to shout, he then stabbed several people before being wrestled to the ground by civilians and border police officers, a police spokeswoman said.
It was "definitely a terror attack," spokeswoman police Luba Samri told ABC News, adding that four policemen, three civilians and the taxi driver were initially hospitalized. The attacker, from the West Bank city of Nablus, was also taken to the hospital.
Terror Attack Occurred Outside Nightclub Filled With 2,000 Teenagers
The club was hosting a party with reportedly around 2,000 teenagers. After the car careened into the checkpoint, people ran over to help, thinking it was an accident.
"I don't want to know what would have happened if the terrorist had managed to enter or even get close to the entrance of the club and carry out his attack there," a club employee told the Haaretz newspaper.
Israel's interior security minister applauded the police response, saying that "the message of this event is that the police officers are the bullet-proof vest that prevents terror attacks against teenagers," according to Israeli media.
Attacks of this nature in Israel have been very rare in recent years, though tension is high between Palestinians and Israelis following a series of recent rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip and retaliatory attacks by the Israeli air force.
The most recent incident simliar to today's was on May 15, known to Palestinians as the "Nakba," when they mourn the "catastrophe" of the creation of the state of Israel. On that occasion, a Palestinian man drove a truck into several cars early in the morning, killing one Israeli. The driver says it was due to a flat tire, the police suspect nationalist motives.
Today's attacker was released into the custody of Israel's Internal Security Service which is investigating the incident.