A massive manhunt for the assailant, who is still at large and reportedly armed with ammunition and the sub-machine gun he used in Friday’s attack, has entered its fourth day.
The attack occurred at the Simta bar on Dizengoff 122, near the corner of Gordon Street. One of people killed was identified as Alon Bakal, a manager at the pub. Bakal had moved to Tel Aviv three months ago after completing law and business studies in Netanya. The other was identified as Shimon Ruimi, 30, a resident of Ofakim.
Police now believe that the gunman fled the scene on foot, hailed a cab, and rode to north Tel Aviv where he murdered the driver, 42-year-old Ayman Shaaban from Lod, before abandoning the vehicle.
Several of the casualties in the shooting were attending a birthday party at the bar. Security footage from an adjacent grocery store shows the gunman taking out a gun from a backpack, exiting the store and opening fire. Another video shows bar-goers ducking under tables as the gunman shoots.
A Koran was found in a bag left at the store. The police is looking into the possibility that this was part of a diversion.
Israel’s Channel 10 reported that about 30 shots were fired from an assault rifle during the attack.
Two of the casualties of the attack are in serious condition, while the rest sustained light injuries.
Police have identified Nashat Milhem, a 29-year-old Israeli Arab resident of the Israeli Arab town of Arara as the suspect. The suspect stole the gun from his father, who works in security. The father recognised the suspect from media reports, and after learning his weapon was gone, contacted the authorities.
The father said: “I am a law-abiding Israeli citizen. I heard that my son did what he did, but that is not how I raised him, I am sorry…I went to the police and assisted security services. I join in the sorry of the families and wish a speedy recovery to the wounded”.
A large contingent of police forces were present Saturday afternoon at the Wadi Ara home belonging to the Milhem family. Security forces removed computers and also questioned the suspect’s relatives, including his brother.
The man-hunt, now in its fourth day, has led to many schoolchildren staying at home in Tel Aviv. According to the municipality, about one-half (50%) of the schoolchildren in northern Tel Aviv were kept at home by worried parents. In central neighborhoods of the coastal metropolis, some 30% of children stayed away from school.
Friday’s attack was the first in Tel Aviv since the 2nd November 2015, when two people were killed in a stabbing in south Tel Aviv. In total, at least 23 Israelis have been killed during the current wave of violence since the beginning of October 2015.