A relative of Tel Aviv shooter Nashat Melhem claimed to Army Radio on Sunday that Melhem “has no prior hatred of Jews.”
“Our entire family is in shock,” the relative added. “Our entire family and village urge Melhem to turn himself in to authorities.”
Melhem, who lives in the Arab Israeli town of Arara, is the chief suspect in Friday’s deadly shooting attack. He remains on the loose and is believed to be hiding out somewhere in the greater Tel Aviv area. Authorities believe he is still armed and very dangerous, and tensions are running high in the city.
During the interview, the family member said that “both our family and our village, want this story to come to a close.”
“We all thought that within hours of committing this act, he would turn himself in. This whole situation is very difficult for all of us, and we are shocked by it. His parents are completely devastated.”
It was reported earlier that Melhem served a five year jail sentence for attempting to steal a gun from an Israeli soldier. It was further revealed that the previous conviction was a criminal and not a terrorist charge.
Melhem’s relative claimed that he was not acting on any nationalist impulses on Friday when he committed the attack nor was he part of any terror organization.
“He lived in Tel Aviv, and when he came back home to the village, he spoke Hebrew. He had no hatred of Jews, and this is a very far cry from a terrorists who kills for nationalistic reasons.”