Arrests, but prime suspect still on the run
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Hebrew media review

Arrests, but prime suspect still on the run

The Hebrew press pores over Mohammed Milhem's reported phone call with his son after the Dizengoff shooting

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

Mohammed Milhem at the Haifa Magistrate's Court on Tuesday, January 5, 2016 (Channel 2 screenshot)
Mohammed Milhem at the Haifa Magistrate's Court on Tuesday, January 5, 2016 (Channel 2 screenshot)

A development in last week’s deadly Tel Aviv shooting gets top coverage in the Hebrew press on Wednesday, as the fugitive suspect remains at large five days after three people were murdered. Eight suspects have been arrested in the case, including Nashat Milhem’s father, on suspicion of abetting murder and conspiracy.

The print media runs with a television report that Milhem spoke with his father on the phone shortly after the attack. Yedioth Ahronoth quotes the family lawyer saying that the father spoke with Milhem, but that aside from that single phone call, there has been no contact between the suspected killer and members of the family. Even so, several family members are in police custody, and Milhem’s mother and sister have been interrogated, Israel Hayom reports. Those arrested have been barred from meeting their legal counsel, according to Haaretz.

The lawyer for Milhem’s father, Mohammed, tells Yedioth that his client didn’t help the suspected gunman to flee the scene of the crime. “When I represented this man in the past he always wanted to go the legal route. He’s very concerned about his standing. He volunteered with the police and worked 30 years in security.”

Police sought the extension of Mohammed Milhem’s custody by 12 days, but only got two, Haaretz reports. He is suspected of premeditated murder, illegal conspiracy, and communicating with a suspected criminal.

Even though Milhem remains on the run, Israel Police commander Roni Alsheich has tried to calm the fears of Tel Aviv area residents over a possible second attack by the fugitive gunman. Yedioth Ahronoth runs with the new police chief’s vague and somewhat obscure remarks about the investigation and hunt for the suspect. It quotes him telling the press that “it’s a mission that’s on my shoulders, and therefore I must weigh what I say and what I don’t say.”

Israel Hayom informs readers that two of the victims of the Dizengoff Street shooting remained in serious condition in a Tel Aviv hospital on Wednesday. One victim who was shot in the leg and abdomen started breathing on his own and opened his eyes, but still has to undergo surgery on his leg, his brother tells the paper.

Haaretz headlines its daily coverage with another expose on West Bank settlement development — the latest in a string of front page stories it’s published of late about Israeli construction and expansion in the area. According to the report, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon recently approved the inclusion of a new tract of land in the Etzion bloc of settlements south of Jerusalem, effectively extending the cluster of Israeli settlements further south and creating a new settlement. The plot of land, known as Beit Bracha, was bought by an American foundation financed by millionaire Irvin Moscowitz, the paper reports. The new settlement, it says, is situated at a strategic location on Route 60, the main north-south artery connecting Hebron and Jerusalem.

The paper notes that the purchase of the eight-building compound, formerly a church hospital, was exposed by Haaretz in May.

The death of a IDF officer in a training accident on an army base in southern Israel also gets front page coverage in all the major papers. Lieutenant Yishai Rosales, 23, was hit by a live mortar round fired by another unit training on the base. Israel Hayom writes that the initial suspicion of investigators is that it was “a deadly accident.” Yedioth Ahronoth features the headline “Made aliyah from Mexico, killed in Tze’elim,” referring to the army base where Rosales, whose family immigrated from Central America in 2001, was killed. A second soldier was lightly injured.

Rosales’s brother tells Yedioth Ahronoth, pulling patriotic heartstrings, that Yishai wanted to join the army from a young age. Israel Hayom runs the obligatory piece reflecting on Rosales’s memory.

Another Israeli mayor in hot water gets downplayed in Yedioth Ahronoth but gets front page treatment in Haaretz. Ashkelon Mayor Itamar Shimoni was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of rape and of accepting bribes; four others — including the mayor’s brother — were arrested on a laundry list of other charges. According to Yedioth Ahronoth, Shimoni is suspected of sexual misdeeds against four women, some of whom worked under him. The paper says that Shimoni allegedly paid off one of the women with hundreds of thousands of shekels so she wouldn’t bring charges against him. The hush money, the police suspect and Haaretz reports, came from taking bribes from contractors and laundering other funds.

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