Police to request PA assistance in locating suspected TA shooter

timesofisrael

The Israel Police on Friday was set to officially request the assistance of the Palestinian Authority in searching for a fugitive Arab Israeli suspected of killed two people in a Tel Aviv bar last Friday, before he went on to murder a cab driver whose taxi he hailed to make his escape.

Police investigators also began Friday to question suspected and former arms or drug dealers in Arab Israeli towns in an attempt to gather possible information on the fugitive’s whereabouts, Channel 10 reported

According to Channel 2 TV, Israeli security officials increasingly believe 29-year-old Nashat Milhem may be in the West Bank, although most details of the search remain under a gag order.

Milhem allegedly killed two people in a shooting attack outside the Simta Bar on Tel Aviv’s busy Dizengoff Street last Friday, New Year’s Day, before fleeing and disappearing. Shift manager Alon Bakal, 26, and patron Shimon Ruimi, 30, were killed in a hail of bullets as the suspected gunman opened fire with a submachine gun he allegedly stole from his father. Seven people were also wounded.

Police on Wednesday evening officially named Milhem as the killer of Bedouin taxi driver Ayman Shaaban some 60 minutes after the bar attack. In fleeing the scene, police said, Milhem shot dead Shaaban after hailing and escaping in his taxi.

Nashat Milhem, the Arab Israeli man who allegedly carried out the shooting attack in Tel Aviv on January 1, 2016. (Israel Police)

Nashat Milhem, the Arab Israeli man who allegedly carried out the shooting attack in Tel Aviv on January 1, 2016. (Israel Police)

Since the attacks, Milhem, from the northern town of Arara, has remained at large. Authorities have warned he is armed, dangerous and capable of striking again.

According to the Channel 10 report, it would be more difficult for Israeli authorities to track down Milhem in the north than in the West Bank, where the Shin Bet security service has many informants. Police assessments quoted by the TV station said Milhem had likely received assistance both before and after Friday’s attacks.

Mohammed Milhem, the father of Nashat Milhem, was arrested and questioned Tuesday along with five others. He is suspected of being an accessory to the murder, and of obstructing the investigation.

Muhammad Milhem at the Haifa Magistrate's Court on Tuesday, January 5, 2016 (Channel 2 screenshot)

Muhammad Milhem at the Haifa Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday, January 5, 2016 (Channel 2 screenshot)

On Monday, Mohammed Milhem had made a televised plea to his son to turn himself in. “Contact me,” he said, appealing directly to his son. “I will help you. Let’s end this saga. These are difficult days for the family.”

Hours after the killings last Friday, it was the father who went to local police and told them he had recognized his son as the gunman from TV broadcasts of security-camera footage of the attack. The police believe Nashat Milhem used his father’s gun in the killings.

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