Tel Aviv Shooting Suspect's Father Calls on Son to Turn Himself In

Mohammed Melhem made a public plea to his son, speaking from a Haifa court, and expressed his condolences to the victims and their families.

Melhem talks to reporters on Monday outside a Haifa Magistrate Court. January 4, 2016
Rami Shaloush

Mohammed Melhem, the father of the suspected assailant behind Friday's Tel Aviv shooting, on Monday called on his son to turn himself in. His son, Nashat Melhem is suspected of killing two people last Friday in a shooting at a Tel Aviv bar Friday,and is suspected of later killing a taxi driver as he made his escape. police are still searching for him, and fear he may still be hiding in Tel Aviv.

"I am turning to my son directly," he said at Haifa's Magistrate Court. "Cooperate with me and call me."

"If you do not want to do it, then another friend [of yours] should [do it]," said Melhem addressing his son, repeating his words in Arabic.

Before beginning his plea to his son, Melhem first wished a speedy recovery to all those injured in the attack and expressed his condolences to the families of those killed. "I harshly condemn this incident. It is not our practice to conduct terror in Israel," Melhem said.

Speaking to security forces, he said that together they can reach a situation where his son would be arrested.  "This situation is difficult and exceptional, and it is feared he will harm many others," he added.

Melhem spoke to reporters outside the Haifa Magistrate's Court, where a relative of his was remanded for investigation for three more days in relation to Friday's attack. So far he has been questioned for some 60 hours by the security forces, Melhem explained. 

"The Shin Bet is putting on pressure [on him], and that is their right," Melhem said, but he contended that this relative and his other son, who were both arrested in conjunction to the attack, were not involved.

Israeli lawyer Nehami Feinblatt said the fact that the Shin Bet initially asked to keep him for questioning for 10 days and settled at three proves he is not involved. "The act speaks for itself," he said.

"The Shin Bet is helpless, and the pressure is being directed at the family and the father," said the lawyer.  The Shin Bet's requests of the father are "insane," said the lawyer, but he declined to provide details.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan told the Knesset Channel that "he's more sophisticated than people think. He's not innocent and not mentally unstable." Erdan added that Milhem intentionally did not bring his phone with him to the attack to make it more difficult to find him.

Erdan also mentioned illegal weapons in Arab communities, noting that "we already have to have gone in and taken the weapons. It should be a national project. This will be my test in office this term."