Police deployed in large numbers in Tel Aviv and its environs on Friday following a security assessment, exactly one week after a terrorist murdered three people in the heart of the city.
Police stopped cars and requested drivers’ IDs. Armed police officers were spotted on Dizengoff Street, not far from last week’s attack, and near Dizengoff Center, among other places.
Meanwhile, the search for the alleged perpetrator of last week’s attack, Nashat Melhem, continued further north in the Wadi Ara area. Police arrived at Kafr Qara in Wadi Ara on Friday morning and checked vehicles leaving the town. A Wadi Ara resident was arrested.
Milhem is a 29-year-old Israeli Arab resident of Arara, a village in the Wadi Ara in northern Israel. Milhem is known to the security establishment here. Milhem was jailed for five years for a 2007 attack on an Israeli soldier in which he attempted to grab the soldier’s rifle after assaulting the victim with a screwdriver.
In recent weeks, Israeli and Palestinian security services have clamped down on cells of Salafists who reportedly joined the Islamic State. Some of those extremists were Israeli Arabs from northern Israel.
Israel’s Shin Bet security agency in December announced the arrest of Israeli Arab youths from Nazareth for declaring allegiance to the Islamic State. The Shin Bet said that during interrogations “it emerged that, in the past year, the youths obtained firearms and trained with them, while becoming more devout during meetings they held. They expressed support for ISIS [Islamic State], and praised the jihad against infidels.”
Two weeks ago, two cousins accused of being Islamic State operatives were arrested in the Nazareth area on suspicion of plotting attacks in northern Israel.
A highly motivated killer remains at large in central Israel, with the murder weapon in tow. Police reportedly fear two extreme scenarios: That Milhem would attempt a second shooting attack or that he would enter a civilian home and take a family hostage.