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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Palestinian Shot at Turkish Embassy: What is really going on here?

I gotta write about it because it is so hot write now that newspapers and blogs just can't seem to stop spewing out news about it. But what "it" is, exactly, wasn't clear for hours.  

Some reports say that a Palestinian man was running around the streets naked before he entered the Turkish Embassy demanding asylum.  Others say he took his wife hostage along with the consul of the embassy, while others deny those claims completely. Some reports say that shots were fired at the Turkish Embassy, others claim they were fired outside of the embassy and still others claim two separate incidents: one outside and one inside.

Photo credit: Associated Press.  Police Outside The Turkish Embassy in Tel Aviv

What everyone does seem to agree on a this point, at least, is that the man who has been causing all the trouble, Nadim Injaz from Ramallah, was shot in his leg during the commotion and has since been apprehended by authorities. He is in good condition, according to Turkish embassy reports, and is waiting to be transferred to Tel Aviv's Ichilov hospital under police guard.

So what exactly happened?

Mr. Injaz, armed with a knife, a can of gasoline and what appeared to be a gun (but later turned out to be a toy) burst into the Turkish Embassy Tuesday, August 17th 2010, demanding political asylum.  According to a statement released by the Turkish Embassy, he entered shouting for asylum and immediately tried to take the consul hostage as guards attempted to detain him.

Apparently, Injaz made a call to the Channel 2 news media while he was inside and threatened to "kill any Jews" who entered the scene. According to Haaretz.com news report, Injaz continued in his rant to Channel 2 saying,

"If they don't let me leave this country now I will burn down the whole building. I will burn everything. I will burn the cars, the doors I will break down the doors. I will break everything."
He said he was demanding asylum and protection from "these murderers the
Zionists, the murdering Jews." At the same time, he said that Palestinian leaders, including President Mahmoud Abbas, "should die."
Injaz remained for six hours within the Embassy walls after shots had been fired and the Magen David Adom, ( Israeli Red Cross), police force and ambulances had arrived at the scene.  None of the Israeli authorities were permitted to enter the Embassy boundaries, being that it is technically Turkish soil. During this time, helcopters circled overhead and Israeli authorities blocked off Hayarkon street, a main street that runs north-south along the Tel Aviv boardwalk.  Everyone waited anxiously for an update from embassy officials.

Photo Credit: Yaron Brener, ynet.com.  Police waiting for update from embassy officials.

Despite many attempts to call the embassy in an effort to help treat any individuals wounded during the exchange, the police, red cross and emergency personnel had no luck reaching the Turkish Embassy officials who refused to answer any calls and kept their doors tightly shut. It seems that the embassy staff is waiting for specific instructions from Ankara before escorting Mr. Injaz to a hospital or taking any further actions.

Israeli media has painted the picture of a man with a a history of erratic behavior and a serious criminal record.  To begin with, he's pulled a stunt like this before.  Only four years ago, Mr. Injaz scaled a wall of the Britsh Embassy in his first attempt to be awarded political asylum.   He also allegedly worked as an informant with Palestinian as well as Israeli security services in the past.  According to the Jerusalem Post,

"Injaz has a troubled past, allegedly working for Palestinian security forces in mid-1990s after his brother was discovered to be an Israeli collaborator, and later as an Israeli informant himself.

Injaz reportedly told a human rights researcher that he was promised Israeli identity papers by Israeli intelligence for his work as an informant, but they never came through on their side of the bargain. Since then he has been in and out of Israeli prisons on petty criminal charges or for lacking identity papers and repeatedly expelled to the West Bank, only to keep coming back to Israel." 

Ynet goes even further in it's detailed coverage with reports from Injaz's attorney, Avital Horef.  Mr. Horef told Ynet that barricaded himself at the British embassy in a desperate attempt to save himself when it became clear to Injaz that he was wanted by Palestinian Authorities in the West Bank.  After his barricade, he was  awarded permission from Israeli authorities to reside in Israel, but was not granted a working permit. With no source of income, Injaz began to steal, and was arrested and jailed by the Israeli police.

Photo Credit: REUTERS/Eli Dassa/Maariv.
Nadim Injaz looks out of Turkish Embassy window in Tel Aviv during barracade.

Mr. Horef continued:

"While [Injaz] was still in jail he contacted me and asked me to sort out permission for him to reside in Israel," said Horef. "I petitioned the High Court for this even before his release, and to get a temporary injunction to prevent his deportation to the occupied territories, where a death sentence awaited him."

"About two weeks ago the temporary injunction was cancelled in a High Court deliberation," Horef continued. "When Injaz was released, he was taken to the Judea and Samaria checkpoint, and like anyone who wants to live, he escaped back to Israel. Today he came to the Turkish embassy in order to sort out his troubles and obtain political asylum."

Now the question is, why all the hoopla? Is Injaz crazy, or is he a product of the mad Israeli-Arab-Palestinian politics?  It sounds to me like he's a pretty desperate guy who is very scared of death, believes that many people are out to kill him, and has lots of hate pent up in his heart. It certainly doesn't sounds like he's led anything resembling a normal, stable or easy life. He's so scared that stormed not one, but two embassies in Israel.  In the end of things, all he wants is to live and work in a country where he can feel like he is a free citizen. 

I'm sure that more will soon come to light as this story unfolds, but for now, my first impression is that this poor man has been driven to the edge, and no one really knows what to do with him now. 

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