Dragnet for fugitive Tel Aviv gunman passes its fourth day

Israelis urged to stick to normal routine, send kids to school despite jitters.

January 5, 2016 00:40
2 minute read.
Israeli border police guards secure near the scene of a shooting incident in Tel Aviv

Israeli border police guards secure near the scene of a shooting incident in Tel Aviv. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Security remained high in and around Tel Aviv on Monday as the search for a fugitive gunman who shot dead two Israelis in an attack on Dizengoff Street on Friday stretched into a fourth day, with police seeming no closer to finding the suspect.

Tel Aviv City Hall said municipal security services had stepped up patrols, with an emphasis on schools and daycare centers.

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Security was enhanced at creches, nursery schools and educational institutions across the city, including police and private security officers posted outside these buildings throughout the day.

The heightened alert was most pronounced in north Tel Aviv, especially in Ramat Aviv, where a cellphone belonging to the shooter – believed to be Arara native Nishat Milhem – was found on Friday not long after the attack.

Also on Friday, a taxi driver from Lod was found murdered near the Glilot Interchange, on the northern edges of Tel Aviv.

Police and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Service) suspect that Milhem may be hiding out in the Ramat Aviv area, where he has worked in the past year.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said on the Knesset TV channel that the shooter “is more sophisticated than we thought. He’s not naïve. He didn’t carry his cellphone on the day of the attack so that it would be harder to locate him.”

Erdan remarked, noting the panic and fear disrupting daily life for many Israelis, despite the fact that many more people die in traffic accidents.

“It is important to maintain routine. There are also many traffic accidents and every day in recent months there are attacks and knife attacks and our country is not meant to conduct itself according to the actions of terrorists or to traffic accidents or other things,” Erdan said.

On Sunday night, police arrested one of Milhem’s brothers on suspicion of being an accomplice to the attack. A second brother had been arrested on Friday, and is expected to be released on Tuesday.

In court on Monday, Milhem’s father, Muhammad, repeated his call for his son to turn himself in, saying “I am calling on my son directly – if you can cooperate with me, call me and ill arrange things for you. If you don’t want to, then have a friend contact me.”

The suspect’s father also spoke in Arabic in appealing to his son to turn himself in, and repeated his condemnation of the attack.

Police and the Shin Bet held a series of security assessments on Monday to gauge the progress of the search, but have yet to issue any call for the public to stay indoors or abandon their typical daily routine.

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