It was the bodily needs of the Tel Aviv shooter, an Israeli Arab, that proved to be his undoing. In Judaism, there is a blessing for the correct function of those things.
Israel Police and all the linked and jointly operating security forces received unstinting praise Saturday night from Israel’s two top leaders for finding the Tel Aviv shooter. Their work was particularly unpleasant.
Security officials used DNA testing and feces found in an abandoned building in Nashet Melhem’s village to track down the killer.
Melhem had fled north toward his home village of Ar’ara immediately after murdering three people in Tel Aviv on January 1 — something suspected by security officials at the time, but that could not be confirmed.
In actuality, he made it back within hours, officials told reporters after he was killed in a shootout at the village on Friday.
First he hid out in the fields. Then he found shelter in an abandoned building – that’s where Israeli security personnel found the first traces of his presence.
By the following Monday they had tracked him down to that building, located in a field within the village boundaries. But they had missed him; he was gone.
How did they know he was there? Human feces was found at the site. They took a sample and tested it; the sample matched Melhem’s DNA, according to Channel 10 television news. Ditto a spent cigarette butt, which also matched his DNA.
Both discoveries allowed Israel Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich to calm the public in Tel Aviv by Tuesday, telling them it was much less likely Melhem was still in the area.
The killer was ultimately tracked to the home of a 76-year-old female relative who is hospitalized on a respirator. She has no idea that her home was used as a murderer’s hideout. The outside wall bears the name “Melhem” painted in blue Hebrew letters, a relative – Ahmed Melhem – told Channel 2 television news on Saturday night.
When Melhem saw the security forces coming to get him on Friday, he opened fire at them from the window of that relative’s home. He then tried to escape.
Security personnel had orders to try and take Melhem alive – if possible.
About 200 meters away, he jumped over a low wall into the yard of a neighbor, according to security officials. He turned and fired at security personnel chasing him – including an officer with a police dog (who was not injured).
That’s when Melhem was shot and killed by police who returned fire.
In response to questions from the television channel, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan emphasized that accomplices are still being tracked down. “We will arrest everyone who had a role in this,” Erdan affirmed.
One suspect told a judge at a hearing that a friend had reported seeing Melhem in the village, but he had not credited the report.
Ahmed Melhem, however, had a different view of the matter: “Maybe people didn’t want to get into a fight with him. The whole country knew how dangerous he was.”
On Saturday night Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement “on behalf of all the citizens of Israel” saying he wanted to thank “Israel Police, ISA, and the police special anti-terrorism unit” for their skill.
“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,” Netanyahu warned.
Hana Levi Julian