New lead in the Tel Aviv terrorist manhunt

Israeli police and security forces are honing in on Nashat Milhem, the 29-year-old Arab-Israeli terrorist who murdered three people and injured nine others in a shooting spree in Tel Aviv last Friday.

Five days after the attack, Police and Shin Bet investigators say they have a new lead regarding Milhem’s movements after fleeing the scene, but would not specify further. The case is currently under a court-imposed gag order, but according to sources the manhunt is focusing increasingly on Palestinian Authority-controlled areas of Judea and Samaria.

Police Chief Roni Alsheich’s decision to lower the alert levels in the Gush Dan region is believed to be connected to the unspecified intelligence received by investigators.

The news of progress comes on the same day as Nashat’s brother Juadat was released from police custody, and reiterated his family’s calls on the gunman to hand himself in.

Police have arrested several relatives of the shooter under suspicion of helping him escape and evade capture. His father, Mohammed, is among those held, as is at least one of his uncles.

At a press conference earlier this week, Mohammed’s lawyer revealed he had spoken to his son shortly after recognizing his face from TV reports after the attack. Police reportedly believe Mohammed – who has volunteered for the police force in the past – acted as an accessory to murder by helping him escape. However, his lawyer insists that is not the case, and that he is a law-abiding citizen who was merely trying to convince his son to surrender to police.

The family deny any connection to the crime, and claim police have used the arrests as a means of pressuring Nashat to give himself up.

Nashat fled the scene of the attack, along central Tel Aviv’s busy Dizengoff Stret, immediately after calmly drawing an assault rifle and gunning down scores of innocent civilians, murdering Alon Bakal and Shimon Ruimi. He is then believed to have murdered taxi driver Amin Shaban shortly after.

The manhunt initially focused on the greater Tel Aviv region before moving further north to Wadi Ara. Israeli police have also reportedly turned to the Palestinian Authority to check estimations Milhem may have fled to PA-controlled territory.