Israel Returns Tel Aviv Shooter's Body, Restricts Funeral Attendance

Nashat Melhem is buried in his hometown in late night ceremony.

Nashat Melhem, suspected of killing three in Tel Aviv on January 1, in a Hadera courtroom in 2007. He was killed in a shoot-out with security forces last Friday.
Itzik Ben-Malki

Nashat Melhem, the Israeli Arab who shot and killed three people in Tel Aviv on January 1, was buried late Tuesday night in a ceremony attended only by his family.

Melhem was shot dead by security forces after a weeklong manhunt in the northern Israeli town of Arara on Friday.

A relative of Melhem told Haaretz earlier this week that the Shin Bet security service made the funeral contingent on limiting attendees to 20 family members. The Shin Bet handed over the body late Tuesday night for burial in Arara, Melhem's hometown.

“As long as the family meets the demands the Israel Police have made to ensure that the terrorist’s funeral will not be turned into a show of support for terrorism and incitement to additional attacks – then the body will be released,” Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan had said on Monday.

In a previous case involving a Bedouin Israeli terrorist, Mouhnad al-Okbi, who had committed the attack at the Be’er Sheva central bus station in October, the body was only released for burial after two months, also in the middle of the night. The funeral was small as well, as per demands by authorities.

The Haifa Magistrate’s Court, meanwhile, extended the remand of seven Arara residents suspected of abetting Melhem or of knowing his place of hiding but not reporting it. The court also forbade them from meeting with their lawyers. Three of the residents were arrested over the weekend on suspicion that they had heard the terrorist was in the village before police shot him, but did not report his whereabouts to police.