JERUSALEM – Police commandos stormed the British Embassy in Tel Aviv late Thursday and captured a Palestinian man who had been holed up inside for eight hours, claiming to have a gun and demanding political asylum. There were no injuries.
Police said the forces seized the man after he laid down his weapon for a split second. After the arrest, authorities discovered the weapon was plastic, police said in a statement.
Embassy spokeswoman Karen Kaufman said the arrest came after a coordinated effort with British officials. "As far as the embassy is concerned, the event is over," she said.
Nadim Injaz, 28, a resident of the West Bank city of Ramallah and suspected informer for the Israeli security services, burst the embassy by jumping a fence. In a dramatic interview on live television Thursday evening, he said he would rather die than return to the West Bank.
He remained holed up inside the compound several hours later as authorities tried to negotiate a peaceful end to the standoff.
He said he was demanding asylum, fearing Palestinian militants will kill him, and threatened to commit suicide.
"They will either take me out of here to Europe, or as a body," Injaz, speaking Hebrew, told Channel 2 TV. He said he was forced to take the extreme step after Israeli authorities rebuffed repeated demands for help and protection. "If no one comes to help me soon to save my life, I will finish myself here."
Injaz said militants in the West Bank told him that he would only be allowed to return to Ramallah only if he attacked Israelis. He said he chose this path instead.
"I don't want to kill children," he said in tears in a separate interview with Channel 10 TV. "I want to be taken from here. I don't want to be here."
The embassy, on the Tel Aviv seafront, is ringed by a fence and visitors are normally screened by security guards at the gate. Police officials said Injaz managed to jump the fence of the compound but was stopped by security before he could enter the building.
Kaufman said an investigation would be launched into how the man breached security.
Police officials said Injaz was a Palestinian informer for Israeli security services and had encountered financial and legal troubles. Injaz said he has petitioned Israeli courts and contacted local media and human rights groups to win residency rights in Israel.
Asked by Channel 2 if he worked for the Shin Bet security service, Injaz named his handlers in the Israeli police.
Injaz said he would be killed if forced to return to Ramallah. His lawyer and human rights activists he has contacted also arrived on the scene.