IDF soldiers foiled a stabbing attack in northern Shomron Monday morning, b’chasdei Hashem. A terrorist attempted to rush a group of soldiers at a checkpoint near the town of Hermesh, lunging at them with a knife. The soldiers managed to prevent her from reaching them, opening fire and eliminating her.
Meanwhile, the investigation into the shooting attack a week ago Friday in Tel Aviv continued Monday. On Sunday night, security forces rounded up dozens of residents of the northern town of Arara, the hometown of Nashat Melhem, the shooter who killed three people in the center of Tel Aviv. Melhem was killed last Friday in a shootout with special police forces in Arara, but an investigation indicates that he received a great deal of assistance from town residents in hiding from authorities, and a major manhunt continued.
Officials have not yet officially termed the attack an act of terror – even though Melhem’s three victims have been included among the ranks of victims of terror attacks, a status that qualifies their families for extra government assistance in numerous areas. Killed in the attacks were Alon Bakal and Shimon Revimi, Hy”d, who were shot as Melhem sprayed an outdoor café on Dizengoff Street with bullets, along with cab driver Amin Sha’aban, who was shot by Melhem in his cab in north Tel Aviv. Melhem was eliminated when Israeli forces shot him after he opened fire on them.
But speaking Monday, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said that the classification was likely to change, because the indications were increasing that Melhem acted “out of nationalistic motivations. We have been and will continue to inform the public of all the information we are able to,” said Erdan at an installation ceremony for incoming Israel Police chief Roni Alshich.
Despite reports that police knew all along that Melhem was hiding in Arara, and that the ongoing searches in north Tel Aviv were for show only – and to fool Melhem – Erdan said that the police preferred not to take chances. “We did not reduce the security level in Tel Aviv because we were not 100-percent positive as to Melhem’s whereabouts, and there was intelligence available that showed that he was planning another attack,” Erdan added.