Hebrew media review

The manhunt goes on

Nashat Milhem’s brother appeals for him to turn himself in, as searches for Tel Aviv gunman now focus on northern Israel, West Bank

Ilan Ben Zion is an AFP reporter and a former news editor at The Times of Israel.

Israeli security forces look during a hunt for Nashat Milhem, the prime suspect in first of January fatal Tel Aviv shooting attack in Ramat Aviv neighborhood, Tel Aviv, on January 5, 2016. (Photo by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Israeli security forces look during a hunt for Nashat Milhem, the prime suspect in first of January fatal Tel Aviv shooting attack in Ramat Aviv neighborhood, Tel Aviv, on January 5, 2016. (Photo by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Nearly a week after a deadly shooting in Tel Aviv left three dead, the main suspect is still on the run and the papers are still covering each minute detail about the case as it surfaces.

For Israel Hayom, the reopening of the pub where the shooting occurred, and the obligatory photos of people drinking beers solemnly, is the main story. The paper reports that what began as an intimate reopening for the Simta bar staff to remember their colleague, Alon Bakal, who was killed in the attack, grew gradually as a large crowd of passersby came to pay their respects and say “Life goes on, and we’re not afraid.”

Alongside the reopening of the bar, the paper also reports on Nashat Milhem’s brother Jaudat’s release from police custody and his statement that he and the family condemn what Nashat did and that “our hearts are with the families of the murdered and injured.”

“We implore you, it’s tearing our family apart. Mother and father and everyone are traumatized by what we’re going through. Think of your parents and your siblings and turn yourself in,” Jaudat told Nashat in a tearful statement.

According to Yedioth Ahronoth, Israeli security officials expressed optimism that the noose is closing in on Milhem and that they increasingly believe he has hidden himself in the West Bank. His family, particularly his father, who is in police custody as a suspected accomplice, reportedly feels the same way.

Israel Hayom reports that Shin Bet, IDF and police forces scoured the West Bank in search of Milhem, and a Palestinian security official told the paper that the Israeli suspicion is growing that Milhem is hiding in the Palestinian territories.

A police source tells Yedioth Ahronoth that officers carried out searches for the fugitive in the villages near his hometown in Wadi Ara, as well as in Baqa al-Gharbiya, and are checking the possibility that he hid out in one of the Arab villages in the Triangle or in the adjacent West Bank city of Tulkarem.

The coordination in the manhunt between the Israeli and Palestinian security forces may be indicative of an improvement in relations between the two sides. According to Haaretz, defense officials recognize a significant improvement in cooperation with their Palestinian counterparts.

They told the paper that they think Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is taking a different approach to the upsurge in violence and Palestinian terrorism, which has continued nonstop for over three months already. Palestinian security officials have been dispatched to areas of tension between the two sides to prevent Arabs from engaging with the IDF, and have restarted arresting Hamas members in the West Bank, the paper reports.

Israel Hayom gets a kick out of the accidental injury of a Channel 1 reporter during a demonstration of a vest meant to protect against stabbings. Fortunately the injuries were minor, but the paper quotes the IDF saying, “We don’t use those vests.”

Haaretz runs an editorial criticizing the government’s support for settlements following a series of stories exposing “the symbiotic relationship between government institutions and settler organizations.” It points out that Israeli taxpayers must be aware of how expensive settlements are, citing Silwan, in Jerusalem, as costing the government NIS 30,000 ($7,700) per person per year.

“This servility toward the settlers under the cover of government bureaucracy must stop. The government must be transparent regarding property transfers to the settlers, and public officials must act in the public interest, not to please the tendentious political leadership,” Haaretz says.

Israel Hayom uses the report of North Korea testing a hydrogen bomb to go after — you guessed it — US President Barack Obama and the nuclear deal with Iran. Even though it’s unclear that Pyongyang’s claim that it set off a fusion bomb is remotely accurate, Boaz Bismuth writes in the paper that the problem is that “we may very well see the consequences in Iran,” sarcastically calling the nuclear test “another achievement” for Obama.

“Iran and North Korea both desire a nuclear arsenal and both have signed supposed nuclear deals with the West, and both are simultaneously developing ballistic missile systems that should trigger warning bells,” he writes. “Since it signed the nuclear deal with Western powers in Vienna on July 14, Iran has also conducted ballistic missile tests. One wonders whether the Obama administration considers ballistic missile tests a gesture of goodwill.”

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