Saturday, January 09, 2016

09-Jan-16: Manhunt for last week's Tel Aviv shooter ends

Arara, northern Israel, Friday afternoon: Forces fan out as the manhunt
converges on the shooter [Image Source]
With the Sabbath just ended, here's what happened right after we posted our last pre-Shabbat article ["08-Jan-16: Tel Aviv on high alert"] on Friday afternoon.

What we know now is that hundreds of Israel Police officers were deployed in parts of northern Israel as well as in the Tel Aviv area during Friday as part of the pursuit of Nashat Milhem, the Israeli Arab gunman who killed three people last Friday afternoon outside the Simta Bar in central Tel Aviv ["03-Jan-16: Friday's Tel Aviv shooter is still on the loose"]. A focus of their efforts was a neighborhood in the northern Israeli Arab village of Arara, Milhem's hometown.

He was known to be armed, and considered dangerous and ready to kill again. Flying inspection checkpoints were set up at multiple locations,  Times of Israel says it's now believed Milhem had been hiding in the Arara area for almost the entire past week.

Evidently what betrayed him in the end, so to speak, was his excrement:
The key piece of evidence that led investigators to Nashat Milhem’s hideout... was the gunman’s feces... The police found the human waste in the vicinity of the area where the raid took place. After it was taken to a laboratory for testing, the authorities discovered that it matched the DNA of the suspect - Jerusalem Post 
Forces from an elite police unit and from the Shin Bet, seeking to capture him alive, tracked the shooter to the hiding place, located in his town and close to his family's home. The Times of Israel account says he spotted them encircling the building and attempted to flee. Still in possession of the powerful weapon he used in the Simta Bar attack, he opened fire on the forces and in the ensuing fire-fight was shot dead. This was made official at about 4.20 pm Friday.

According to Times of Israel, five people had been arrested in the course of the past week in connection with the manhunt, among them several members of Milhem's family.
Chief of Police Roni Alsheikh said the case was not finished, and that police would continue to work to expose any and all others who had helped Milhem before and after the shootings. “All of those involved in terrorism,” Alsheikh said, “should know that we have the means, the determination and the patience to find them all.” [Times of Israel]
There seems to be wall-to-wall approval in Israeli government and opposition circles, as well as in public opinion, with how the week-long manhunt was brought to an end. And in a certain way, that feeling is shared over on the other side, though with a very different emphasis. As the journalist Khaled Abu Toameh reports ["Palestinian Authority joins Hamas in declaring Tel Aviv gunman as 'martyr'"] today:
The Palestinian Authority, Hamas and other Palestinian groups declared Nashat Milhem a shaheed (martyr). The PA Ministry of Health initially added Milhem, who is an Israeli citizen, to its list of “martyrs” who were killed by Israelis during the current wave of terrorism, which began in early October. However, the ministry on Friday night removed Milhem’s name from the list. The ministry explained that it documents the names of Palestinian “martyrs” only in areas that fall under its jurisdiction, namely the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem. [Jerusalem Post]
And this report from Times of Israel today reminds us of the deepening gulf between the attitude to co-existence, rights and basic morality on the other side of the fence, and ours:
Palestinians in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of al-Ram on Saturday mourned slain Israeli-Arab gunman Nashat Milhem, who murdered three Israelis in Tel Aviv last week, as a “heroic martyr” who “defeated the occupation.” “We join the family in the mourning the heroic martyr Nashat Milhem, who today has become a martyr of Palestine,” read banners hanging in a mourning tent erected in the neighborhood, one day after the fugitive Milhem was killed in a shootout with Israeli security forces.
“Nashat Milhem defeated the occupation,” another banner read, according to a report on Channel 2 news. Meanwhile in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, hundreds of Palestinians took to the streets to honor Milhem on Saturday afternoon, in a rally sponsored by the terror group... On Friday night, an official Hamas TV station praised Milhem as a “brave hero” and “martyr.” 
There's a disturbing sense here that what makes this particular terror attack so worthy of adulation and attention on the Palestinian Arab side is that it was executed by an Arab with unrestricted Israeli status, papers and profile. Knowing this is one thing. Knowing what to do with it, in a democratic society, is another.

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