Israel’s security services announced that a police SWAT team has located and killed the Israeli-Arab citizen who was responsible for the Tel Aviv shooting rampage on the first of January, which claimed the lives of three Israelis and injured countless others; ending a week-long manhunt of the attacker, but falling short of the public mystery over what motivated his attack.
Police said in a statement that a SWAT team closed-in on a building in the assailant’s home town of Ar’ara, which is located in northern Israel, killing him when he stormed-out shooting at them. No injuries were reported among the SWAT forces.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recorded a special televised statement in which he congratulated the security forces and emphasized Israel’s resolve in targeting anyone who would try to harm Israelis, stressing that no one is immune when it comes to the enemies of the Jewish state. “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,” PM Netanyahu said.
The Israeli Arab assailant, whom police identified as 31 year-old Nashat Melhem, was initially identified by relatives from CCTV footage of the Tel Aviv attack, where he was seen murdering two people in a central restaurant in the city and then killed a taxi driver, whose vehicle he used to escape the scene. Melhem had previously spent four years in prison for assaulting an Israeli soldier, and was described by officials as mentally unstable. Speculations rose, however, as to the motive of Melhem’s attack, as it was not clear whether he did it out of pro-Palestinian sympathy or loyalty to the Islamic State, which in recent weeks has circulated messages threatening to attack Israel. Nevertheless, Israel has yet to officially describe the Tel Aviv shooting attack as a terror incident.