People gather at the site where Israeli special forces shot dead Nashat Milhem, an Arab Israeli wanted for the murder of three people in a Tel Aviv shooting spree last week.
(photo credit: AFP PHOTO)
President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and opposition leader Isaac Herzog released statements on Saturday praising the police, the Shin Bet and the Border Police SWAT team involved in finding and killing terrorist Nashat Milhem.
The weeklong search for the Arab Israeli who killed three people in Tel Aviv last Friday came to an end on Friday when security personnel killed the suspect in an exchange of fire.
“I wish to express my support for the police and search units, to the security servicemen, intelligence personnel and those leading them who worked night and day over the last week – even more so than normal,” Rivlin said. “We will not bow our heads in the face of the depraved terrorism we are facing in this difficult period. We will continue to choose life, even when in pain, even when the price we pay is heavy and so very difficult.”
Netanyahu said the security forces worked professionally and systematically day and night, focusing on their mission and achieving it. He referred to Israel’s long-standing policy of finding terrorists who murdered Israelis wherever they are around the globe.
“Anyone who goes to murder Israelis must be aware that sooner or later we will reach them, whether in the borders of the state or outside of them,” the prime minister said. “No one is immune. We will reach the murderers and we will reach all those who collaborate with them.”
Herzog said Milhem’s family members who erected a mourning tent for him were “enemies of Israel” and needed to know that hatred and incitement would not be tolerated.
“Anyone who sanctifies death and the murder of Israelis must feel the full force of the State of Israel, which will harm them as if they were the terrorist Milhem himself,” Herzog said. “The Palestinian Authority must rid itself of such disgusting criminals and remove Milhem’s name from the list of martyrs on its Health Ministry website.”
Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman blamed the Tel Aviv murders on Netanyahu and his government for preventing the passage of legislation sponsored by Liberman’s party that could have prevented Joint List MKs Haneen Zoabi and Jamal Zahalka from running in the next national election.
“Those who topple such a bill and allow Zoabi to stay in the Knesset should not be surprised to receive shots on Dizengoff Street in return,” Liberman said at a cultural event in Netanya.
Science, Technology and Space Minister Ophir Akunis said on Saturday that the leaders of the Arab-Israeli minority in Israel – lawmakers in the Knesset from the Joint List party, and those leaders who serve outside of the legislature – must do some deep-soul searching in light of recent events.
“For the members of the Joint List [12 of its 13 MKs are Arabs] and the High Follow- Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel, the test will be during the mourning period of the family in Arara. If they visit the mourners’ tent and continue to make statements against the State of Israel, this will be more proof that their pronouncements about integration into Israeli society are mere lip-service,” Akunis told Israel Radio.
The Follow-Up Committee is the main extra-parliamentary group that represents Arab Israelis at the national level.
Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On said that Milhem’s attack must not serve as a pretext for discrimination against Arab citizens.
“This criminal incident must not be an excuse for the collective punishment of the Arab community, for the canceling of budget allocations to narrow gaps, and for fanning the flames of hatred and fear between Israel’s Jewish and Arab citizens,” the Meretz leader said at a cultural event in Ness Ziona.Nathan Wise contributed to this report.