Armed Palestinian demands asylum in Europe

An armed Palestinian man burst into the British Embassy in Tel Aviv today demanding political asylum, saying in a dramatic interview on live television that he would rather die than return to the West Bank.

Nadim Injaz, 28, a resident of the West Bank city of Ramallah and suspected informer for the Israeli security services, infiltrated the embassy in Tel Aviv by jumping a fence.

He remained holed up inside the compound for several hours.

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 television.

He said he was forced to take the dramatic step after Israeli authorities rebuffed repeated demands for help.

“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 if he carried out a suicide bombing. He said he chose this path instead.

“I don’t want to kill children,” he said in tears in a separate television interview with Channel 10 TV.

“I want to be taken from here, I don’t want to be here.”

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the man was armed with a pistol and police on the scene had made contact with him.

Anti-terrorist units surrounded the site.

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.

Embassy spokeswoman Karen Kaufman said Israeli police had been invited into the embassy compound and were seeking to deal with the situation. There were no reports of any shots fired.

Kaufman said an investigation would be launched into how the man breached security.

Israeli police said they were operating inside the compound in full cooperation with British authorities.

Police officials said Injaz was apparently 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.

Injaz said he would be killed if forced to return to Ramallah because he had collaborated with Israel, police officials said.

His lawyer and human rights activists he has contacted also arrived on the scene.

Injaz initially positioned himself inside the parking lot of the embassy and police were conducting intensive negotiations with him to try to convince him to put down his pistol.

In the meantime, special forces, donning ski masks, were also preparing to take him down by force if needed, officials said.

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