The 21-year-old Palestinian man arrested for allegedly subjecting a young couple to a horrific three-hour rape ordeal denied having carried out any sexual offenses, during a court hearing on Tuesday.

The suspect, who cannot be named due to a media ban, told the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court through an Arabic interpreter that he had stolen the couple’s phones, but he denied having been in possession of a knife and said he had not committed rape.

Police brought him and four additional Palestinians – all in the country illegally – to court after a night of questioning.

During his interrogation, the suspect told police that his family, from the Nablus area in the West Bank, had thrown him out of the house before he arrived in the country illegally.

The police representative to the court said the suspect worked in various Tel Aviv restaurant kitchens and stayed at homes in north Tel Aviv.

Detectives had been aware of his identity since Sunday, one day before making the arrest near the scene of the crime at the Gan Ha’ir parking lot in central Tel Aviv. During the arrest, the suspect attacked police, biting an officer and trying to assault another, police said.

During the court session, police said the suspect had randomly met the couple and brandished a knife, leading them to a bathroom and ordering them to perform sexual acts with one another. He then raped the girl and tried to rape the man.

The court said it was convinced by the evidence that the suspect was linked to the crime, adding that he posed a serious threat to public safety.

The court extended his custody by nine days.

Police said there were many additional steps to take in the investigation.

On Monday, a police source said the suspect had been caught via “classic police” investigation techniques.

“He knows north Tel Aviv very well. He knows the streets. He’s been here for a while. He carried out irregular jobs periodically,” police added.

Police are also checking to see whether the suspect committed additional offenses.

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