Condition of 2 critically injured in TA attack improves
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Condition of 2 critically injured in TA attack improves

Massive manhunt still underway for Nashat Milhem, Israeli Arab who killed two, wounded seven, on Dizengoff Street

Police officers stand outside a bar on Dizengoff Street  in central Tel Aviv, on January 2, 2016, a day after two people were killed in a shooting there. Visible in the image is the adjacent Anise health foods store, where the shooter abandoned his backpack as he launched his attack. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Police officers stand outside a bar on Dizengoff Street in central Tel Aviv, on January 2, 2016, a day after two people were killed in a shooting there. Visible in the image is the adjacent Anise health foods store, where the shooter abandoned his backpack as he launched his attack. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The condition of two victims critically injured in Friday’s deadly shooting attack in Tel Aviv slightly improved Saturday after one underwent emergency surgery for a bullet wound to the head, and the other for stomach injuries sustained in the incident. Two Israelis were killed in the attack.

One of the injured individuals, Ido Lazan, was treated at the Ichilov Hospital and, though still in serious condition, his life was no longer considered to be in danger. The second injured man, whose name was not published, remained hospitalized in Ichilov as well.

Five others were wounded in the attack, three in moderate condition and two with light injuries. The three people who sustained moderate wounds were taken to Tel Hashomer Hospital in Ramat Gan, Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva and Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, according to the Magen David Adom rescue service. All were said to have improved late Friday. The two who were lightly injured were released from the hospital by Saturday evening.

Two Israelis, Alon Bakal, 26, who was the manager of the Simta Bar targeted in the attack and Shimon Raimi, 30, from Ofakim, were killed in the attack.

Alon Bakal, 26, was killed in a shooting attack in central Tel Aviv on January 1, 2016 (photo via Facebook)
Alon Bakal, 26, was killed in a shooting attack in central Tel Aviv on January 1, 2016 (photo via Facebook)

A massive manhunt for Nashat Milhem, the Arab Israeli gunman who allegedly carried out the attack, continued throughout Saturday, as the killer remained at large despite a rigorous search by security forces.

The gunman was seen in CCTV footage walking out of a health food shop on Dizengoff Street in the city, before beginning to fire his automatic machine gun at shops and bars near the Dizengoff Center mall, just before 3 p.m. Friday.

The suspected gunman in Friday's shooting attack in Tel Aviv (Courtesy)
Nashat Milhem, the suspected gunman in Friday’s shooting attack in Tel Aviv (Courtesy)

Roads around the site of the attack remained closed as the manhunt continued Saturday. Security forces were also searching abandoned warehouses and building sites in the Tel Aviv area. Channel 2 television reported.

Police fear that the suspect may seek refuge in an apartment or in a crowded place, the Haaretz daily said, adding that special police units are on high alert for such an eventually. The police suspect that the gunman has a small sum of money that will allow him to get by in the short term.

In addition to the search in Tel Aviv, security forces are also active in the northern community in which the Milhem family lives. They seized computers and other items they believe can help in the investigation into the attack. Police are also exploring the possibility that the attacker had help from another person in the area of the shooting.

Footage from the scene shows a suspected Arab Israeli gunman emerging form a nearby store and opening fire during a January 1, 2016 attack that killed two people at a Tel Aviv bar (screen capture: YouTube)
Footage from the scene shows a suspected Arab Israeli gunman emerging form a nearby store and opening fire during a January 1, 2016 attack that killed two people at a Tel Aviv bar (screen capture: YouTube)

Security sources said Friday that Milhem is a 29-year-old man from the village of Arara in the Wadi Ara area, who had carried out a “nationalistic terror” attack. His father recognized him in CCTV footage showing him leaving the health food store and then opening fire, and called the police. The father was questioned by police late Friday. Ahmed Milhem, a relative, said the suspect stole his father’s weapon from a safe at their home.

Another relative, Sami Milhem, who has also served as the suspect’s lawyer, said later he was “not of sound mind,” and noted that his father is a police volunteer.

The killer was acting out of “Islamist” motives, having been incited to violence, Channel 2 quoted security officials saying Friday evening. He had in the past served a five-year jail term for a 2007 incident in which he attacked an IDF soldier with a screwdriver and tried to grab his weapon.

The Shin Bet said it did not have any warning of an impending attack.

Shimon Ruimi, 30, from the southern town of Ofakim, had traveled to Tel Aviv for a friend's birthday when he was killed in a shooting attack in the city on January 1, 2016 (photo via Facebook)
Shimon Ruimi, 30, from the southern town of Ofakim, had traveled to Tel Aviv for a friend’s birthday when he was killed in a shooting attack in the city on January 1, 2016 (photo via Facebook)

The attack came amid more than three months of almost daily Palestinian terror attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers. At least 25 Israelis have been killed, mostly in stabbings, shootings and car-ramming attacks. More than 130 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire, most while carrying out attacks or attempted attacks, and others during violent clashes with security forces.

Judah Ari Gross and Adiv Sterman contributed to this report.

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