In a message issued to the media, the Israeli police asked the public for assistance in locating the perpetrator, an Arab Israeli from northern Israel, and “pass on any information” that may prove valuable in tracking him down.
Israeli security forces, including the police, as well as the Shin Bet Security Agency and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) remained on high alert on Saturday for any new developments.
The suspect has been identified as Mashat Melhem, a 29-year-old Arab Israeli from the Arab village of Arara, according to a statement by police spokeswoman Luba Samri.
He managed to flee just after carrying out the attack, sending thousands of police officers into a manhunt in the area of Tel Aviv and in the vicinity of the Arara village.
A police source told Xinhua there is some concern that the shooter, who is armed with an automatic weapon, may entrench himself in a residential building and take hostages with him.
The police is not certain as for the motive of the attack, in which two Israelis, Alon Bakal and Shimon Ruimi, were killed, while two others were seriously injured and three more moderately wounded.
Melhem served time in the past in the Israeli army for snatching a weapon from a soldier, and was diagnosed as having mental problems. His cousin was shot and killed in 2006 by Israeli policemen.
It was suggested the attacker might have been influenced by the Islamic State organization, while others connect the attack to the ongoing wave of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, which claimed the lives of 23 Israelis and more than 130 Palestinians.
The police issued a gag order on the details of the investigation into Friday’s attack, also pertaining to a murder which took place shortly thereafter of an Arab Israeli taxi driver in northern Israeli named Amin Shaaban, which might have been related.
The father’s suspect, Muhammad Melhem, called the police and informed them his son is the suspected gunman after footage of his son in a shop shortly before the attack surfaced in Israeli media outlets.
Muhammad works in security and it is believed his son stole the weapon he used for the attack from his vault.
In a press conference held on Saturday at his home, he said he is a loyal Israeli citizen and apologized for his son’s actions, adding he hopes the police would catch his son before he hurts more people.
“I am a law-abiding Israeli citizen. I heard that my son did what he did, I didn’t raise him like that and I am deeply sorry for his actions. I came to the police and helped the security services,” he said in a statement to Israeli reporters, also extending his condolences to the families of the victims.
He concluded that he is “part of everyone’s suffering, no matter whether you are an Arab or a Jew.”
The local council of Arara also issued a statement condemning the attack, saying the residents of the community “strongly condemn the shooting and are strongly opposed to any act of violence,” and adding the gunman does not represent the village’s residents.
Arab Israelis are Palestinians who stayed in Israel after the 1948 War and became Israeli citizens, constituting 20 percent of the Israeli population. Enditem