Israeli security forces scoured the city of Tel Aviv in search of the gunman who killed two people and injured eight others in a shooting outside of a pub on Friday.
Police say the suspect has been identified at 31-year-old Nasha’at Melhem, an Arab-Israeli who lives in northern Israel.
CNN reports that authorities went door-to-door using what was called “units specializing in locating and neutralizing perpetrators.” Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that multiple organizations were working together to locate the suspect responsible for the Tel Aviv shooting.
“All of our emphasis at this moment in time is finding that suspect and all the different organizations — security organizations here in Israel — are working together to find that man.”
The shooting occurred on Friday outside of a pub on Dizengoff Street at 2:40 p.m. Over 15 rounds were fired in “a number of different directions.” The gunman then fled the scene of the shooting, resulting in a massive manhunt throughout the city of Tel Aviv.
Two different surveillance videos show the gunman before and during the shooting. Both videos were aired by Israeli news media, and led to the suspect’s identification.
In one of the videos, the gunman appears to place a bag on a shopping cart, pull out a gun, step out and point the weapon. In the other video, the gunman appears to be outside on a sidewalk in Tel Aviv shooting the weapon as bystanders run away from the scene.
Apparently, Melhem’s father, who volunteers for the police, recognized his son and immediately contacted authorities. An uncle says that Melhem has a diagnosed psychological disorder, but he is unsure if Melhem is currently taking prescribed medication to treat it. The uncle also says that Melhem previously spent five years in prison after he attempted to steal a weapon from an Israeli soldier.
After the attack, Melhem’s father discovered a weapon he kept in a safe at home was missing, but it is unclear if that was the weapon used in the shooting.
Rosenfield indicated that roadblocks have been set up in Tel Aviv, and homes and empty buildings around the city have been searched by a number of different agencies as well.
“You have to understand the central area of Tel Aviv is a main populated area with hundreds of tourists that have come in for the new year, and we have to prevent any further incident from taking place.”
Haim Pinto, who owns a jewelry store close to the pub, said in a phone interview that he had been outside when the shooting began. Pinto said that the gunman was “firing in every direction while he was running.” He quickly ran inside to take shelter in a bathroom until the shooting was over.
“I saw people running shouting, ‘Terrorist, terrorist!’… [It was] lucky that today was cold and wet, so that there were not too many people out. Dizengoff Street on Friday is usually packed, and we are lucky that there was bad weather so there were not so many people.”
The Tel Aviv shooting happened during a time of heightened violence in Israeli territory, which has been called a “wave of terror” by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Numerous stabbings and other types of attacks on both civilians and Israeli soldiers have taken place recently. According to CNN, from October to Mid-November alone, 20 Israelis have been killed and more injured.
Palestinian officials claim that Israeli authorities have used too much force, however. They claim that Israeli forces have taken over 80 Palestinian lives in the same time period.
Authorities are still investigating into whether the Tel Aviv shooting was a criminal act or an act of terror.
[AP Photo/Oded Balilty]