A massive search is underway in Herzliya, north of Tel Aviv, for an Israeli Arab man who told his family that he intended to carry out a terror attack in the coastal city. Hundreds of security personnel, including members of the Israel Police, Border Police and Israeli Security Service, are part of the hunt for the potential terrorist.
The man has been identified as Ahmad Khatib, 20, from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Tzur Baher. Khatib has a criminal record with prior convictions for charges involving theft and sexual offenses, and, according to police, he is a drug user. Police also said that he suffers from a mental health disorder.
A police report revealed that Khatib had left his home in East Jerusalem after getting into a fight with his father and telling his family he planned to perpetuate a terror attack in Herzliya. He drove out of Jerusalem, breaking through a police roadblock on the way, and continued towards central Israel. His car was found abandoned in Herzliya, putting the city on high alert.
Police have traced his cell phone to the city’s Central Bus Terminal and are focusing their search in that area. With the help of a search helicopter, security forces are spreading through the city and the surrounding areas.
Herzliya mayor Moshe Fadlon has ordered a buildup of security reinforcement at the city’s schools and around its population centers. In a statement, Fadlon said, “We are working together with the police, and we are preparing ourselves as is appropriate with this situation.”
He told residents to carry on with their lives, vowing, “We won’t bow to terror. Terror will not silence the life of our city. We will carry on as usual.”
The Herzliya Municipality asked the public to remain vigilant and report any unusual activity or suspicious figures to the police.
Meanwhile, the search for Nashat Milhem, who killed two and injured seven in a shooting attack on Tel Aviv’s central Dizengoff Street on Friday, continues. Milhem, who opened fire in a bar with a submachine gun before escaping, also shot and killed a taxi driver as he fled.
While his cell found was found shortly following the attack and the search has been underway for five days, security forces have yet to locate Milhem. Police warn that he is armed and dangerous, and could be planning another attack.