Tel Aviv Diary: A Sigh of Relief as a Shooter is Shot

Israeli border police guard the scene of a shooting incident in Tel Aviv on January 1. Three people, two Israelis and later one Arab, were killed and several were wounded. Nir Elias/Reuters

Seven days after Alon Bakal and Shimon Ruimi were shot at Simta, a bar on Dizengoff Street in downtown Tel Aviv, Nashat Milhem, their alleged killer, was killed by an elite unit of the Israeli police.

Three days ago, security forces found physical evidence of Milhem's presence near Arara. This morning, one of those helping Milhem made a mistake, and the police and the security establishment learned his location. In the course of the day, the police closed in on Milhem, who was hiding in an abandoned home.

Several people were reportedly hiding him and providing food and support. It took the security personnel some time to find the specific house he was in. As police were closing in on him, Milhem exited the house and got into a quick fire fight with the police that ended in his death.

Nati Shaker, one of the owners of Simta, said after the capture, "It was a very difficult week. His elimination gives us hope that the other side will realize that terror will not defeat us." David Bakal, the father of Alon Bakal said, "I had no question that by Shabbat they will catch the terrorist."

When the news broke, Hamas television began a special broadcast, calling Milhem a martyr and blessing his action. In the past three months, 200 militants killed or captured during attacks. Milhem is the fourth Arab-Israeli to take part in this latest wave of attacks.

This morning, the imam in the main mosque in Arara gave a speech decrying the attack. Most residents of the town oppose the attack. They seem embarrassed that someone from their town did such a heinous deed.

At the moment, it is not known if Milhem was part of an ISIS cell or some other group. What is clear is that he was not, as some had tried to depict him, a crazy lone wolf.

In the coming days, the background of the attack will emerge. In the meantime, the residents of Tel Aviv and all of Israel are breathing a sigh of relief. For the first time in recent history, an attacker had gotten away, but in the end he was found and killed.

Marc Schulman is the editor of