Hamza Muhammad Hasan Matrouk.
(photo credit: Courtesy Shin Bet)
The Palestinian man arrested for a stabbing attack on a Tel Aviv bus last month will be sent for a psychiatric examination to see if he is fit to stand trial, following a request made by his attorney in court on Monday.
Hamza Matruch, 21, was ordered kept in custody for a further nine days, during which he must be taken for evaluation, Judge Benny Saguy ruled in the hearing at the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court.
A lawyer representing Matruch told The Jerusalem Post that he is being held at the Magen medical facility run by the Israel Prisons Service at the Ramle prison complex, where he is still receiving treatment for wounds he sustained in the attack. The lawyer, Dan Bowman, was handling the case temporarily, he said, adding that a new attorney would be appointed by the next hearing.
Bowman said he had spoken to Matruch only once, in court on Monday, when he seemed to be “reasonable.” During the hearing Bowman quoted Matruch’s previous attorney, who had told him that “in his meetings with the suspect in custody, he was struck by strange behavior and actions that made it hard for him to gauge his mental state.”
Matruch, a native of Tulkarm in the West Bank, had no prior record of security offenses when he allegedly stabbed more than a dozen commuters during an attack that began on a No. 40 bus in central Tel Aviv on the morning of January 21. He was shot in the leg by an Israel Prisons Service officer while attempting to flee and taken into custody.
In a statement released after the stabbings, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) said that Matruch set out from his home in Tulkarm for Tel Aviv on the morning of the attack inspired by last summer’s conflict in Gaza, unrest on the Temple Mount, and watching extremist Islamist content that glorifies martyrdom leading to “the reaching of heaven.”