Just before Shabbat came in we learned of a terror attack which took place at a Tel Aviv pub, in which a terrorist opened fire at the customers, leaving two Israelis dead and several others severely injured. Even worse, the terrorist got away, and as of this writing, three days later, he is still on the loose despite his identity being known:
Two people were killed and two others seriously wounded in a shooting attack in Tel Aviv just before 3 p.m. Friday. Five others were wounded — three in moderate condition and two with light injuries. As Friday night turned into Saturday, the killer was still on the loose, and a massive manhunt for him was continuing.
The entire incident is reminiscent of the Paris attacks last month:
Eyewitnesses said the gunman fired into at least three establishments in the area — a bar, a restaurant and a cafe, and then fled. One of the cafe staffers said several people chased after him “but he disappeared” into a side-street.
Footage from the scene of the attack shows people sitting in a cafe and running for cover when the gunfire begins. The gunman can be seen coming into shot, as he sprays the street with his automatic weapon.
Israel knows the identity of the killer, and believes he was carrying out a “nationalistic terror” attack, security officials said Friday evening. But a relative, Sami Milhem, who has also served as the suspect’s lawyer, said later he was “not of sound mind,” and noted that his father is a police volunteer. The suspect was named Saturday night as Nashat Milhem.Police sources said the gunman is an Arab from the village of Arara in the Wadi Ara area of northern Israel, aged 29, and that his father recognized him from security footage of the attack, and called the police. The father was being questioned by police late Friday.
The killer was acting out of “Islamist” motives, having been incited to violence, Channel 2 quoted security officials saying Friday evening.
The killer served a five-year jail term for attacking a soldier with a screwdriver and trying to grab his weapon in a 2007 incident.
Witnesses said some 15 shots were fired in the attack, apparently in semiautomatic bursts from a Carl Gustav submachine gun.
The two victims were named Friday evening as Alon Bakal and Shimon Raimi.
The shots were fired at locations near the city’s well-known Dizengoff Center Mall, an area that is crowded on Friday afternoons. …
Watch the video footage:
Another video shows the gunman walking along the street prior to the attack, and then emerging from a natural foods grocery store as he opens fire.
CCTV footage from the grocery store showed the gunman calmly buying nuts and dried fried moments before the attack, taking the murder weapon out of his backpack, stepping out of the store, turning to his left, and opening fire. Officials highlighted the extraordinary calm he appeared to display, in the seconds before he began his killing spree.
The two victims were laid to rest yesterday with hundreds of people attending their funerals.
Alon Bakal, 26, was one of two people killed when an assailant sprayed automatic gunfire on a busy street in the center of the city shortly before 3 p.m. on Friday. Bakal was the manager of the Simta bar, one of the locations hit by the gunman.
The second victim was later named as 30-year-old Shimon Ruimi, a resident of the southern town of Ofakim, who was killed as he joined friends for a birthday celebration at Simta.
A friend, who was wounded in the attack, said that he saw Ruimi fall to the floor bleeding as he was shot.
“We are losing our good kids,” Bakal’s father said from Ichilov Hospital, Walla reported.
“[Alon] studied law and business management, he was a thriving and happy child. He lit up every place he went, he made everyone laugh,” his father said. “Have no doubt, he was a very special child. He was very special to us. Yesterday he sent me a message: ‘I am having fun, I love to live.’”
Charlie Alfasi, a family friend of Ruimi, said that he had traveled to Tel Aviv for the weekend with Yisrael Avitan, who was wounded, in order to celebrate a friend’s birthday, the Ynet website reported.
“They were supposed to stay with us Friday-Saturday, and we went down to the pub. Immediately after the waiter brought them their drinks, the terrorist started shooting at them. Shimon was killed and they were wounded,” Alfasi said.
Avitan told Ynet from his hospital bed that he and Ruimi had been outside when the gunman opened fire.
“I sat inside and two friends went to the bathroom, and the friend who I just heard was killed [Ruimi] went outside to smoke. I didn’t want to sit there alone [so] I sat with him. I heard gunfire and felt something burning in my back. I fell… I crawled into the pub and all the chairs were overturned. We gathered everyone up and went into the kitchen. My brother called Magen David Adom [ambulance service].
What a very sad loss to their families, friends and the people of Israel. May the memories of Alon Bakal Hy’d and Shimon Ruimi Hy’d be for a blessing and may their families be comforted amongst the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.
Meanwhile, the hunt for the terrorist Nashat Milhem continues and his disappearance within Tel Aviv has unnerved its residents. Milhem’s father is a volunteer police offier and is particularly shocked, while the family claim that he is mentally unstable:
“I still do not understand and haven’t digested that my son did such a thing. What happened has left the whole family and village in shock,” the father of the suspect told Channel 2 news. “I am a member of the system, I work in security, and suddenly I understood that my son is involved – and I called the police station. I asked to meet with the station’s senior officer and I let him know that my son was involved in the attack.”
He added: “I extend my condolences to the families of the victims and wish a speedy recovery to those injured.
But according to Tel Aviv residents who know him, he is perfectly sane:
Residents of the Ramat Aviv in north Tel Aviv told Channel 2 on Sunday that Melhem had previously been employed at a vegetable shop in the neighborhood.
Despite claims from family members that Melhem was “insane,” the residents stressed he “may have been hot-tempered, but he was definitely sane.”
According to residents, Melhem worked as a delivery boy for the vegetable shop until 2008. People who knew him from that period claim that “everyone here in the neighborhood knows him well. His nickname was ‘nashnash.'”
“It’s not surprising that if he’s hiding – he would choose this area,” residents said. “He was a delivery boy here and he knows the area he delivered in well. That’s why he did this in a place he knows well.”
Security forces are maintaining a particularly heavy presence in Ramat Aviv as the entire city remains on alert. Several local business owners have been questioned about information on Melhem.
Authorities have reason to believe Melhem is hiding out somewhere in the greater Tel Aviv area. He is assumed to still be armed.
It is a very scary thought that an Arab Israeli, with every right to live and work wherever he wants in Israel, was both motivated to carry out such a murderous attack and can also disappear with such ease.
There are many people in Israel who decry the lawlessness of the Arab sector in Israel, with certain parts almost no-go areas for the Israeli police despite these being part of Israel, and they think that this lawlessness played at least a part in the Friday attack, as Benyamin Netanyahu stated:
Israel cannot allow pockets of the country to have lax gun law enforcement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday evening, visiting the site of Friday’s shooting on Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Street.
Shortly after police publicized the name of the suspected gunman, 31-year-old Nashat Milhem of Arara, Netanyahu spoke out about the need to fight incitement and increase law enforcement in Israeli-Arab areas.
“There are many among Muslim Israeli citizens who have come out against the violence and are crying out for full law enforcement in their towns. At the same time, we all know that there is wild incitement by radical Islam against the State of Israel in the Arab sector. Incitement in mosques, in the education system, on social media,” he said, vowing to continue efforts to stop the incitement.
The prime minister said he is unwilling to have a state within a state in Israel, in which some citizens live in “enclaves with no law enforcement, with Islamist incitement and an abundance of illegal weapons that are often fired at happy events, weddings, and during endless criminal incidents.”
“That time is over,” Netanyahu declared.
Netanyahu said he, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Police Insp.-Gen. Roni Alsheich put together a plan to dramatically increase law enforcement services in Arab areas throughout the country, including building more police stations and recruiting more police officers.
“We will demand loyalty to the laws of the state from everyone,” he stated. “One cannot say ‘I am Israeli in my rights and Palestinian in my responsibilities.’ Whoever wants to be Israeli, must be Israeli all the way, with rights and responsibilities, and the first and foremost responsibility is to follow the laws of the state.”
The prime minister commended Israeli Arabs who enlist in the IDF or do national service.
Let’s hope the terrorist is found very soon before he commits more murder or before someone takes the law into their own hands.
Update: On Friday the body of an Arab taxi driver was found in the same area of the pub attack. The police now believe that the terrorist hailed the taxi to flee the scene and then killed the driver:
Police had said earlier they were certain fugitive Nashat Milhem, the suspected perpetrator of the deadly attack in central Tel Aviv, was also responsible for the murder of taxi driver Amin Shaaban, which took place less than an hour after the first shooting.
According to Hebrew media reports based on police sources late Sunday, Milhem is now known to have fled the scene of the shooting on Dizengoff Street on foot, and hailed a cab on nearby Ibn Gabirol Street. The vehicle drove to north Tel Aviv, where Milhem worked. There, Milhem is alleged to have killed Shaaban outside the Mandarin Hotel. He then drove the cab to Namir Road, where he abandoned it near a bus stop.
Namir is a major north-south artery in north Tel Aviv, from which Milhem could have caught a public bus or other vehicle transportation out of the city.
His mobile phone was found on nearby Reading Street in Ramat Aviv. “And that is the last point of reference for investigators,” the Ynet news site reported.
Milhem still has the sub-machine gun he used in Friday’s attack, and plenty of ammunition, Israel’s Channel 10 quoted police sources saying late Sunday, as the search for him continued into the night. The TV report described Milhem as “a ticking bomb,” who, it was feared, could carry out additional acts of violence including a further shooting attack or an attempt to take civilians hostage.
Police do not have “any kind of a lead” as to his whereabouts, Channel 2 reported. In a statement late Sunday, the police thanked the public for its alertness, and said it could not release details of the investigation for fear of prejudicing the ongoing manhunt.
As more information on the suspect emerged, people who have come into contact with him in recent years described a violent man, quick to take offense.
A police officer who guarded Milhem when he was jailed for attacking a soldier with a screwdriver and trying to steal his weapon in 2007 — ostensibly to avenge the killing of a cousin in a police raid — described the alleged killer as a “very problematic” and “violent” individual, who was “full of hatred.” When he heard that Milhem had allegedly carried out Friday’s attack, the police officer said, “I couldn’t believe he’d been set free” after the five-year term to which he was sentenced for attacking the soldier.
Cab driver Shaaban, a Bedouin father of 11 from Lod who worked for a taxi station at Ben Gurion Airport, was laid to rest on Sunday.
From the level of planning that Milhem must have taken, he may not be insane but he is sounds psychopathic. Is terrifying to think that he is still out there.