Palestinians in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of al-Ram on Saturday mourned slain Israeli-Arab gunman Nashat Milhem, who murdered three Israelis in Tel Aviv last week, 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, one day after the fugitive Milhem was killed in a shootout with Israeli security forces.
“Nashat Milhem defeated the occupation,” another banner read, according to a report on Channel 2 news.
Israeli 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” which lead to terror attacks against innocents.
Meanwhile in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, hundreds of Palestinians took to the streets to honor Milhem on Saturday afternoon, in a rally sponsored by the terror group.
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.
The station also showed footage, filmed before Friday’s events, of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh addressing hundreds of Palestinians in Gaza City.
“He went in the streets of Tel Aviv like a brave hero,” Haniyeh said of Milhem, “in order to bring them death.”
Hamas, Channel 10 later said, is desperate to recruit Arab Israelis to its ranks, as they have complete freedom of movement inside Israel.
Milhem was killed a week after carrying out a deadly terror attack 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.