Police have detained a Palestinian suspected of stealing a van and booby- trapping it in an unsuccessful attempt to explode it in a crowded area of Tel Aviv.
The arrest Sunday came a day after police stopped the van in the suburb of Ramat Efal and seized two terrorists who tried to flee. Sappers destroyed the car bomb without injuries.
Authorities are still seeking a man believed to have been the commander of the group and the driver of the van. Apparently, he jumped out of the vehicle before it came to a halt, letting it coast a short distance before stopping.
The suspect being held stole the van in a Tel Aviv suburb on Nov. 19 and found in its interior two 25-pound cylinders of cooking gas and a pistol under the seat, sources said.
He took it to his home village of Salfit, near Tulkarm, about 10 miles east of Netanya. There, he helped transform it into a car bomb by adding another three full cylinders of cooking gas and wiring the containers to delayed-action explosives.
Meanwhile, police in Jerusalem have decided to beef up stationary and mobile patrols in the Old City, following the stabbing of a yeshiva student Sunday and last week’s fatal grenade attack on Arabs, both in the Moslem Quarter.
The capital’s police chief, Haim Albaldes, said there would be more lookout posts in the Old City, manned around the clock, and foot patrols would be reinforced until further notice.
The victim of Sunday’s attack, 23-year-old Yaron Shefi, was reported Monday to be in fair condition. He was attacked from behind by an 18-year-old Arab woman, who plunged a kitchen knife 4 to 6 inches into his neck.
A watch committee of Jewish residents in the Old City said the stabbing brought to 196 the number of intifada-related incidents there over the past eight months.
Among the incidents were five stabbings, 86 cases of stone-throwing, 17 of arson and 16 involving Molotov cocktails.