According to Israeli media, Israeli police have killed an Arab Israeli who was wanted in connection with the January 1 shooting in Tel Aviv, which killed three people and injured seven.
According to Ynet news, Nashat Melhem, 29, was found hiding at the Wadi Ara mosque in his hometown of Arara, which is a northern Arab town, by the Israeli police and was ultimately killed in a shootout with police counter-terrorism (YAMAM) forces around 4:20 p.m. local time.
Melhem opened fire at law enforcers as he was leaving the building, allegedly using the same weapon as in the Tel Aviv shooting.
The shooting sparked a major hunt and security alert across Israel. Melhem’s relatives had identified him from CCTV footage of the Tel Aviv shooting, where he was shown pulling an automatic rifle out of his backpack and then firing at least 15 shots at people in the street before fleeing the scene, and notified police.
After the shooting, police increased security in Tel Aviv and the areas surrounding it, with security forces patrolling the area in great numbers.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated security forces for “acting relentlessly, methodically, and professionally to locate and neutralize the terrorist.”
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon added, “the elimination of the terrorist Nashat Melhem proves once again that the State of Israel would pursue its malefactors anywhere – within the state, along its borders and even far beyond them.”
The motives for the January 1 Tel Aviv shooting remain unclear.
Melhem had previously been arrested in 2007 for attacking an Israeli soldier and served five years in prison. The attack on the soldier was retaliation for the death of Melhem’s cousin, who was killed in an Israeli police raid in 2006.