Police arrest father of suspected gunman in Tel Aviv shooting

Family lawyer surmises that Nashat Milhem's father was arrested in order to place pressure on the suspect to turn himself in.

Screenshot of suspect's father at press conference in front of his hosue in northern Israel. (photo credit: screenshot)
Screenshot of suspect's father at press conference in front of his hosue in northern Israel.
(photo credit: screenshot)
Muhammad Milhem, the father of a fugitive terrorist suspect, was arrested on Tuesday morning on suspicion of being an accomplice to Friday’s shooting attack that took the lives of two Israelis in Tel Aviv.
The dramatic development came only a day after Muhammad spoke to the press, in order to plead with his son Nashat Milhem to turn himself in to authorities. Milhem, a native of Arara, is suspected of having gunned down Alon Bakal of Karmiel, 26, and Shimon Ruime of Ofakim, 30, during the shooting attack at the Simta bar on Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv.
Milhem is also suspected of murdering Ayman Shaaban, a taxi driver from Lod.
Police believe Milhem hailed Shaaban’s cab on Ibn Gvirol Street just after the murder and rode with him to an open area near the Glilot Interchange, where he murdered him.
On Tuesday, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and the Israel Police requested that the Haifa Magistrate’s Court extend Muhammad’s remand by 12 days, but the judge only agreed to keep him in custody for an additional 48 hours. The arrest of Muhammad – along with four other relatives on Tuesday – is covered under a gag order on the investigation, but was widely reported on Tuesday.
A brother of Milhem’s, Juadat, was also arrested on Saturday on suspicion of assisting his brother, and is set to be released on Wednesday.
Israel Police Commissioner Insp.-Gen. Roni Alsheich broke his silence on Tuesday, speaking to the public for the first time after five days of the manhunt.
After visiting Alon Bakal’s family in Karmiel, Alsheich said, “It is possible to ease up on some of the tension in the Gush Dan area, but I cannot expand on this for now.”
Since the shooting attack, the searches have focused on Tel Aviv, particularly the northern neighborhood of Ramat Aviv, where Milhem’s cell phone was found on Friday.
Alsheich said that the instructions for the public have not changed, and advised people to be aware of their surroundings, but to maintain their normal routine.
He said police “will be seen in the field where they are needed, and less so where they aren’t needed,” adding that the police’s main goal at the moment is to find Milhem, and to prevent any harm from befalling the police officers who are searching for him.
Alsheich also publicly confirmed for the first time on Tuesday that Milhem is a suspect in the murder of Shaaban, saying that in addition to the Bakal family, he extends his condolences “to the other two families – Ruime and Shaaban.”
Though there is a sweeping gag order on the entire case, a slew of details have been published in the past few days, including Milhem’s suspected escape route on the day of the shooting, and the arrests of his family members.
On Tuesday, a police official close to Alsheich said that he has opened a probe into the possibility of prosecuting media outlets that have violated the gag order, but added that at the moment there isn’t an official investigation.