JERUSALEM, June 22 (JTA) — A thief who took an unattended bag from a crowded Tel Aviv beach ended up a hero after he discovered a bomb inside and called police to defuse it. Motti Ashkenazi, 30, a drug addict who has a criminal record, spotted the bag near a group of children playing last Friday at a Tel Aviv beach. He took the bag and walked to the stairwell of a nearby apartment building to check its contents. After he found a cookie container with suspicious wires coming out of it, he called police, who defused the explosives. Police called the incident an attempted terrorist attack and said Ashkenazi’s actions averted a serious disaster. The explosives weighed several pounds and were packed with nails, according to police. Police were considering whether to give Ashkenazi a certificate of merit, but noted that only the week before he had been charged with a number of criminal offenses, including attempted car theft. Ashkenazi maintained that he did not steal the bag. When he first spotted the bag, he said, it aroused his suspicion. He said he asked people around him whose bag it was and then took it away from the area to check the contents. Ashkenazi added that in light of his deeds, he hoped police would make a gesture by clearing his record and helping him complete a rehabilitation program. Out of concern for a new wave of terrorist attacks in Tel Aviv, roadblocks were placed at entrances to the city to spot-check cars. A suicide bomber killed three Israeli women in March at a Tel Aviv cafe. A Hamas cell from the Hebron area, whose members have been arrested by Israeli and Palestinian security forces, carried out the attack.
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