medics treat terror victim

Medics tend to a victim at the scene of last week’s terror attack in Tel Aviv. (AP/Oded Balilty)

After an intense, week-long search, security forces eliminated the terrorist who opened fire at innocent civilians in Tel Aviv.

An Arab-Israeli terrorist who killed three people in Tel Aviv on New Year’s Day was slain Friday in a shootout with security forces, following a massive manhunt.

The terrorist, Nashat Milhem, opened fire at a bar on a busy Tel Aviv street on January 1, killing two people and wounding six.

After tossing his cellphone, Milhem hailed a cab that took him to northern Tel Aviv, where he killed the driver, an Israeli-Arab, and escaped in the taxi before abandoning it, police said, confirming that the motivation was “nationalistic” – i.e. Arab terrorism.

“The breakthrough that allowed security forces to find Melhem came from a cigarette butt containing his DNA that was found by Shin Bet investigators in Arara, showing he was in the area,” Ynet reported. “This led security forces to set up roadblocks and checkpoints all over the area and deploy large numbers of troops in an effort to prevent him from leaving the area and crossing into the West Bank [Judea and Samaria].”

Police patrol northern Arab village

Security forces patrolling the streets of the Israeli Arab village of Arara in northern Israel on Friday. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)

Milhem was hiding in a building in his hometown of Arara in northern Israel, said police spokeswoman Luba Samri. As the special forces closed in on him in the residential area late Friday afternoon, he came out shooting, she said.

Milhem fired at police Friday with the same gun he used in the Tel Aviv shooting, Samri said.

Witness Hakim Younis told Channel 10 TV that he saw some of the shootout from his home.

“I was sitting on my balcony with my cousin … when suddenly shooting began — hundreds of bullets, like in a war,” Younis said, adding that he then went inside. A large number of security forces had entered the town earlier and told residents to stay in their homes, he added.

Alon Ben-David, the TV station’s defense analyst, said special forces with dogs had searched the town. Milhem shot a police dog that had entered a building as part of the search, he added, which exposed his location, prompting troops to close in.

The terrorist had been hiding there all week.

Milhem ‘Received Full Aid’ in Hiding

According to police sources and residents, Ynet reported, Milhem “received full aid, especially from his family members, since arriving in Wadi Ara last Friday. Every day he slept in a different place. They brought him food and took care of him.”

Milhem’s father, who had served as a police volunteer, was among a number of family members arrested during the week on charges of abetting the murderer. Several more suspects were brought in for questioning after he was found.

According to Ynet, “Questions remained on Saturday regarding how terrorist Nashat Melhem, who murdered three Israelis in Tel Aviv, was able to evade capture for a whole week.”

As noted by Arutz-7, “The worrying wide level of cooperation that Milhem received will for many again raise questions about the loyalty of Arab citizens of Israel.”

Funeral terror victim

Funeral in Carmiel of Alon Bakal, a victim of the Tel Aviv terror attack on New Year’s Day. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)

A significant percentage of Muslim Arabs in Israel are identifying with radical Islamic organizations. According to a poll taken in November, 18 percent of Muslim Arab Israelis do not consider the Islamic State (ISIS) to be a terrorist organization and are not opposed to its ideology. A whopping 57 percent believe that the Islamic Movement represents their views, and half say they are either supporters or active members.

The family reportedly set up a mourning tent and is refusing to speak to media. A low-profile funeral is planned, sources indicate. Meanwhile, the body is being held by police.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan called it a “complex operation” and congratulated those who took part.

“The forces practically turned over every stone, and worked day and night over the past week. All our enemies should know that we will hit whoever tries to harm us and we will continue to fight terrorism with full force,” he said.

“On behalf of all citizens of Israel, I would like to thank the Israel Police, ISA, and the police special anti-terrorism unit – they did their work professionally, methodically, day and night; they focused on the mission and they achieved it. All those who would murder Israelis should know that sooner or later we will find them, inside and outside the borders of the State of Israel. No one is immune. We will find the murderers and their accomplices,” stated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“I wish to express my support for the members of the security services who worked night and day over the last week – even more so than normal,” President Reuven Rivlin said. “We will not bow our heads in the face of the depraved terror 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.”

By: United with Israel Staff and AP

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