On Saturday night three detainees were remanded at the Haifa Magistrate’s Court, on suspicion of conspiracy to commit a crime and membership in an illegal association, in connection with the Dizebgoff pub shooter. The remand is until Tuesday, even though police were asking for ten days.
On Friday afternoon security forces killed Nashat Melhem, the terrorist who the Friday before carried out the murder of two Israeli civilians and an Israeli Arab taxi driver, as well as injuring seven civilians outside the HaSimta pub on Tel Aviv’s posh Dizengoff Street. A SWAT team arrived at a structure in the town of Arara in the Arab Triangle, near Afula, having received intelligence about the gunman’s location. According to a police report, Melhem saw the forces getting near his hiding place and opened fire using the Falcon sub-machine gun he had stolen from his father and with which he had murdered his victims the week before.
On the morning after Melhem’s elimination, his family set up a small mourning tent in Ara village, where Melhem grew up. Few visitors came by, and family members would not speak to the media. The Israeli Arab community wants nothing more than to put this sorry event behind it, the sooner the better.
According to Ha’aretz, Melhem was hiding in a house belonging to a relative who was in the hospital. The door was broken down and the inside is a mess. There are muddy clothes strewn on the floor, along with many packages of food and sugar. Among the food leftovers and the ashtrays there is a bag crocheted with the colors of the Palestinian flag. According to a neighbor, there was no way Melhem could have gotten by himself. Somebody helped him. Somebody alerted him Friday, when police had arrived in the village.
Even though the locals in Ara and neighboring towns are trying to keep mum on the entire affair, they are searing with rage at the way police conducted themselves during the raid on their village. “They turned all of us into suspects,” they were saying. They also complained of the mess left behind by police after they had broken down the door of Melhem’s hiding place. They’re also angry at Prime Minister Netanyahu, whom they accuse of badmouthing their village. They argue that the murders carried out by their troubled neighbor were not political, but “it’s in the establishment’s interest to blow it out of proportion.”
One of Melhem’s relatives told Ynet the family was being targeted by security forces. “This morning I walked through the police checkpoint and they started asking me questions as though I were hiding the gunman. My children were very scared. After they finished checking us, they (the children) started crying,” he said.
Jafar Farah, the director of the Haifa-based Mossawa Advocacy Center For Arab Citizens In Israel, told Ma’an that his organization rejected “efforts to blame the Arab community” for the killings. He pointed out that one of the victims of the shooting was himself an Israeli Arab. “The institutions should be there to protect both Arabs and Jews,” he said.
“The government wants to incite Jews against us. Netanyahu’s policy to manage the conflict is to show the Jewish and international communities that the issue is not the occupation, but a problem between Jews and Arabs.”
Farah did not explain how an Arab shooting pub patrons in Tel Aviv, a city founded by Jews on Jewish bought land, might be a reaction to the “occupation.”
The house where the gunmen hid before his discovery on Friday: