The suspect is seen on closed-circuit television just moments before opening fire on Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
More than 48 hours after he went on a rampage in central Tel Aviv, there was still no sign of the gunman who killed two and wounded several others in a shooting attack on Dizengoff Street Friday afternoon.
Large numbers of undercover and uniformed police officers and agents from the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) continued to fan out across the Tel Aviv area on Sunday, focused largely in the northern parts of the city. The searches were especially heavy in Ramat Aviv, where the attacker’s cellphone was found on a sidewalk by a passerby not long after the attack, according to media reports on Sunday.
Rumors and false alarms circulated among Israelis on social media throughout the day, especially on WhatsApp, leading to a dramatic spike in calls to the police emergency hotline.
Ch.-Supt. Hila Hamo, spokeswoman for the Tel Aviv police, said that police had seen a 1,000 percent increase in the number of distress calls in the past 48 hours, most of them describing suspicious persons.
Police have encouraged the public not to hesitate to notify them if they spot someone they believe to be the suspected shooter, 31-year-old Nashat Milhem of Arara. The longer the hunt for Milhem continues, the more likely it is that he is receiving assistance, or is in a prearranged hiding place.
On Saturday, his brother Juedat Milhem was arrested on suspicion of being an accomplice to the attack. He was questioned by investigators without being able to speak to an attorney, a measure regularly taken in interrogations involving security crimes.
The avalanche of distress calls have sent large contingents of special police units scrambling to answer them across the Tel Aviv area on Sunday, from Bat Yam in the south to Ramat Aviv in the city’s north.
Fear of the fugitive gunman led large numbers of parents to keep their children home from school on Sunday, especially in north Tel Aviv, not far from where Ayman Shaaban, a taxi driver from Lod, was murdered on Friday. Police believe Shaaban’s death is linked to the Dizengoff attack.
Police said Sunday there are further details of the investigation that they are not publicizing for the time being, so as not to thwart their efforts to find the killer. A gag order is still in place on the investigation of the shooting attack, and the same gag order secured on Friday also applies to the murder of Shaaban.
The public is advised to continue to be aware of their surroundings and to report suspicious activity, police said Sunday, adding that Milhem is considered armed and dangerous.