Red flag: Tel Aviv terrorist previously attacked policemen

Nashat Melhem, who committed a deadly terror attack in Tel Aviv this month, attacked law enforcement officers several times during a previous investigation (which led to a conviction), it was revealed this week – raising the question of whether his father should have received a firearm license.

Melhem used his father’s weapon to murder three people in Tel Aviv: Alon Bakal and Shimon Ruimi at the HaSimta pub and and Amit Shaaban in his taxi. He was caught in his hometown after a week-long search, where he was killed in a firefight with security forces.

Melhem received a five-year jail sentence after a July, 2007 attempt to seize a weapon from a soldier. Although his indictment noted that he wanted to hurt a soldier “because he is a representative of the state,” he was not charged with a security-related offense but rather with aggravated assault and attempted theft.

Judge Yehiel Lipschitz on Monday approved the release of investigative materials from that incident. Records revealed allegations that during questioning of Melhem at a Hadera police station in that incident, another police officer entered, after which “the accused rapidly rose from his chair, clung to the policeman’s body and tried to snatch the gun that was in his holster.” The two policemen reportedly succeeded in overpowering Melhem.

In a separate incident, two policemen accompanied Melhem to a reenactment of the crime. As Melhem sat in the back while the officers sat in front, the young man attacked one of them, gripping his throat and choking him. The policemen again overpowered him. In yet another incident, he lunged at a forensic photographic during a reenactment in order to stop the pictures from being taken.

Melhem said the crime was motivated by rage over the killing of his cousin by a policeman who arrived to search his home. However, he later said he intended to sell a stolen weapon in order to pay off debts.