A Palestinian Islamist group in the Gaza Strip held a symbolic funeral Sunday for Arab Israeli gunman Nashat Milhem, killed Friday by police a week after he killed three people in a Tel Aviv shooting spree.
Fighters from the Nasser Salah a-Din Brigades, a “military arm” of Gaza’s Popular Resistance Committees, carried an empty casket draped with the Palestinian flag and bearing a photo of Milhem’s face stapled to the front.
At the funeral, they offered prayers to the “martyr,” and urged more Arab Israelis to carry out terror attacks.
The ceremony followed other Palestinian commemorations for Milhem. On Saturday afternoon, hundreds of Palestinians took to the streets of Hamas-ruled Gaza to honor the gunman in a rally sponsored by the terror group.
Also Saturday, Palestinians in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of al-Ram mourned Milhem as a “heroic martyr” who “defeated the occupation.”
“We join the family in the mourning the heroic martyr Nashat Milhem, who today has become a martyr of Palestine,” read banners hanging in a mourning tent erected in the neighborhood.
“Nashat Milhem defeated the occupation,” another banner read, according to a report on Channel 2 news.
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog blasted the erection of the mourning tent, calling those behind it “enemies of Israel.”
Herzog called Milhem “a despicable murderer” and said Israel would not rest until it had eradicated the “pockets of hate and incitement” that lead to terror attacks against innocents.
The public honoring of the killer contrasts sharply with the conduct of his family, who have opted to quietly mourn Milhem in an effort to avoid controversy.
On Friday night, an official Hamas TV station praised Milhem as a “brave hero” and “martyr.”
In a special news broadcast on Milhem, Hamas’s Al-Quds network used an ornate studio that included a mock-up model of the West Bank security barrier, complete with graffiti, Channel 10 news reported.
“The shahid Nashat Milhem was killed after a gunfight between him and occupation forces in the neighborhood of Zahirat in his village,” the anchor said.
Al-Quds even sent a reporter to Arara to interview local residents, some of whom said Israeli security forces had behaved violently towards the residents during Friday’s raid.
Milhem was killed in a gun-battle with the troops who had come to arrest him, a week after carrying out the attacks in Tel Aviv. He was cornered in a building in his home village of Arara, where he had been hiding.
The Palestinian Authority, who initially declined to list the Israeli Milhelm on the list of Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces during the recent wave of terror said the gunman was to be considered by the Health Ministry as a “martyr who spilled his pure blood to free our land,” Channel 2 reported.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said earlier Friday that Milhem may have been influenced by the Islamic State terror group.
Tamar Pileggi contributed to this report.