The father of fugitive terrorist Nashat Melhem spoke with his son shortly after he conducted a deadly shooting attack at a Tel Aviv pub, it was revealed on Tuesday night.
Mohammed Melhem's attorney Nahmi Feinblat dropped the bombshell in an interview with Channel 10, several hours after his client was arrested on suspicion of aiding his son.
According to Feinblat, Mohammed Melhem spoke with his son Friday soon after the shooting. The father claims that after he realized it was his son who conducted the attack, he phoned him and his son answered.
The terrorist intentionally threw away his phone before carrying out the attack, showing his cunning in making it harder to track him, but apparently the father had another way of contacting him, which would apparently strengthen police suspicions that the family aided Melhem flee and hide out.
During the conversation, Nashat Melhem claimed he was at Tel Hashomer Hospital in central Israel visiting a sick relative, according to the father's account of the call.
Aside from the phone call, the attorney claimed no one from the family had any contact with Melhem. Feinblat added that the Israel Security Agency (ISA or Shin Bet) and police have been aware of the call since Friday.
"He definitely did not help him escape," Feinblat asserted of Melhem. "When I've represented this man in the past, he always wanted to take the legal route. He is very concerned about his status."
Mohammed Melhem previously volunteered in the police and received a weapon permit. In 2007 he got the authorities to release Nashat to his supervision, after Nashat tried to steal a soldier's gun and apparently launch an attack.
Feinblat reiterated earlier comments where he suggested the arrest of Melhem's father and family members is a Shin Bet tactic to pressure the terrorist to turn himself in.
"When there is such distress, [they] go on all measures; detention is a tool," the attorney added. "The family has full confidence they are not connected [to the attack] and will be released soon.
Feinblat related that the family estimates Melhem is hiding in Palestinian-controlled territories, after being hired to commit the shooting for criminal reasons. The family has also claimed Melhem is mentally ill, even though police sources and former customers stated that he was mentally sound.
Police on Tuesday searched in the environs of Wadi Ara in the north where Melhem hails from on suspicions he was given cover by his family.