Tel Aviv nightclub attack sparks terror fears

The terror attack near a nightclub in south Tel Aviv last weekend was an isolated incident but security forces are worried that it is a harbinger of a wave of new attacks that will intensify towards the United Nations General Assembly vote on Palestinian independence at the end of the month.

Mohammed Sufan, a 20-year-old from the Kalkilya area, seemed to have acted without the backing of a terror group, but his attack was well organised. He carried out his plan following the prayers of the last Friday of Ramadan, slipping into Israel and travelling to the Tel Aviv area, where he spent Saturday night.

Late on Sunday, he hailed a taxi by the central bus station. Threatening the driver with a knife, he took the wheel and drove to the "Haoman 17" night-club which was holding a large party for 2000 secondary-school students. His plan was to attack as many of the students as possible, but a police road-block was in the way. He rammed a police car, wounding two officers, and then ran from the taxi, stabbing anyone in his way. He wounded six more officers before he was overpowered.

Security sources believe he acted on his own but the fact that he managed to reach Tel Aviv with ease and could have caused many more casualties had it not been for the roadblock is a major cause for concern.

"We have seen such attacks in the past, especially at the end of Ramadan when feelings run high," said one IDF officer, "but we can't ignore the fact that this is also the start of a month in which the UN will debate the Palestinian issue and frustration at the lack of progress towards a Palestinian state will cause more and more tension."

While there is no direct link to the escalation and terror warnings around Gaza and Sinai in the south, the Shin Bet has been detecting in recent months more attempts by groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad to rebuild their terror cells in the West Bank and prepare larger terror attacks, as a direct challenge both to Israel and the Palestinian Authority during the UN debate.

    Last updated: 1:05pm, September 1 2011