Itongadol.- Police on Tuesday arrested the father of Nahat Melhem, suspected of carrying out the terror attack on a Tel Aviv pub on Friday that killed three and wounded several more. Five others were arrested along with Mohammed Melhem on suspicion of acting as an accessory to murder, while his mother was detained for questioning.
Meanwhile, details from the investigation emerged, suggesting that Melhem may have escaped to northern Israel.
A relative of Melhem said following the father\’s arrest that "the arrest will not do anything. Nashat will not care about seeing any of his relatives under arrest. . . He is an insane person. I ask the Shin Bet and police to leave the family alone and search for Nashat. We are also urging him to turn himself in."
In court on Tuesday, a judge agreed to release Nashat\’s brother Judat from detention.
Two police intelligence assessments whose details were revealed on Tuesday suggested that Melhem succeeded in fleeing to northern Israel. Another assessment raised the possibility that he managed to reach the West Bank.
As time goes by – the search for the killer is now on its fifth day – the belief is growing among police that the suspect received help after escaping his crime scenes, which is why it decided to focus its investigation on the Melhem family.
Despite these assessments, Tel Aviv Police has continued to operate at peak alert levels as the hunt goes on for the loose gunman.
Police Chief Roni Alsheikh met the family of Alon Bakal, one of the two people murdered in the Tel Aviv attack, on Tuesday morning.
Alsheikh addressed the search for the first time, stressing the importance of keeping investigation details confidential. He hinted that some progress had been made, saying that residents of the Tel Aviv metro area could significantly "reduce tensions". Some public criticism had been leveled at police and security officials, as no senior official publicly discussed the hunt for Melhem during the first few days of the search.
On Monday, the suspect\’s father publicly addressed his son, saying: "Call me. Maybe I can help you. If you can\’t do it, ask one of your friends. Don\’t stay out there. Turn yourself in."
On Saturday, the suspect\’s brother Judat was arrested on suspicion of being an accessory to murder.
It was Melhem\’s father who first contacted police after seeing his son\’s picture on television. "It\’s important to me now that they reach my son and arrest him, because he\’s still armed, and just like he murdered two people he could murder more," he said on Saturday.
The search for Melhem continued on Monday. It was the fourth consecutive day that law enforcement personnel were out in full force in Tel Aviv\’s northern Ramat Aviv neighborhood.