IDF search dog serving in the Oketz unit.
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
Teams of crack anti-terrorist police commandos as well as dogs from the elite canine unit Oketz were the first to discover Nashat Milhem’s hiding place in Arara, leading to his death in a shootout that brought an end to a nerve-wracking weeklong manhunt for the man who opened fire indiscriminately in central Tel Aviv on New Year’s Day.
A senior IDF official confirmed to The Jerusalem Post's Hebrew-language sister publication Ma'ariv that dogs from Oketz were placed under the command of the elite YAMAM paramilitary police outfit during the search for the gunman.
The key piece of evidence that led investigators to Milhem’s hideout in the Wadi Ara town of Arara on Friday
was the gunman’s feces, which he apparently left for Israeli search dogs to find.
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.
Once authorities had forensic confirmation, the police units were able to pinpoint the location of the gunman. Once Milhem realized that security forces were about to arrest him, he opened fire at the search dogs, which prompted retaliatory gunshots from the police units.
Earlier media reports indicated that one of the dogs was killed by Milhem, though those reports turned out to be inaccurate. No harm came to the dogs involved in the search for the gunman.
As Israelis breathed a collective sigh of relief on Friday evening after hearing the news that Milhem was killed, the newly installed chief of police said that the investigation is ongoing.
“The mission has yet to be completed, and the police and Shin Bet will continue to work determinately and methodically in uncovering all of those involved [in aiding and abetting] the gunman and we will prosecute them to the furthest extent of the law,” Police Commissioner Insp.-Gen. Roni Alsheich said.