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5 Jan, 2016 10:44

Israel asks Palestine for help tracking gunman who killed 2

Israel asks Palestine for help tracking gunman who killed 2

Israeli authorities have asked the Palestinian administration for help in capturing gunman Nashat Milhem. He is suspected of killing two Israeli men and wounding six others in an attack Friday in Tel Aviv.

The appeal to the Palestinian Authority (PA) to share any intelligence on Milhem’s whereabouts came shortly after the attack on Friday, the Times of Israel reports. Israel has already shared its investigation data with PA officials.

Israeli security forces seem to have lost trace of the 29-year-old Milhelm, an Arab from northern Israel. While focusing their manhunt on Tel Aviv and the surrounding areas, authorities are also working on the possibility that the gunman could be hiding in the West Bank.

There was “no reason to assume that the terrorist is in Tel Aviv,” Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan told Army Radio on Monday.

The gunman has been on the run since the attack at a bar on Dizengoff Street on Friday afternoon, which killed two Israeli men and wounded six other people. The assault was recorded on security cameras at a health food store next door.

Milhem’s father Muhammad, a volunteer police officer from Wadi Ara in northern Israel, recognized his son in the footage and contacted the authorities.

In the footage, a man in glasses with short black hair is seen shopping for nuts in the bulk food section of the store. The gunman then walks to the store entrance, and takes a gun from his backpack. He steps outside the store and fires into the bar, before running away.

Authorities believe that Milhem then hailed a cab that drove him to northern Tel Aviv. He killed the driver and escaped in the taxi before abandoning it. A cell phone, believed to belong to the gunman that he discarded before getting into the cab, has produced no leads as to the fugitive's whereabouts. Reports also say that police found a Quran in his bag.

Even though no official connection has been established between the shooter and extreme Islam, Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) expressed hope that Milhem was inspired by jihadist ideology.

Abu al-Ayna Al-Ansari, a jihadist leader in Gaza and an exponent of IS ideology, told Breitbart Jerusalem he hoped Milhem would become an IS fighter, or at least that the attack followed the beliefs of the terrorist group.

Since the suspect was identified, Israeli police have questioned most of his immediate family members, including Milhem's father, two brothers and sister. Police also seized computers and other items from the family home. Authorities believe that Milhem still has the sub-machine gun he used in Friday’s attack.

Milhem was arrested in 2007 for attacking an Israeli soldier with a screwdriver, according to reports. He was convicted and served five years in jail for the crime. The assault on the soldier was revenge for the death of his cousin, who was killed in an Israeli police raid in 2006. Family members told Israeli media that Milhem had signs of mental illness.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Friday’s attack “a heinous and unbelievably vicious murder.”