Israel still on the hunt for father of Tel Aviv gunman

Fathi Hazem receives protection of Islamic Jihad militants who transfer him from one hiding place to another to evade arrest by IDF forces; military says priorities dictate terror suspects apprehended first, with father not deemed an immediate threat

Elior Levy|
Security forces on Wednesday were still on the hunt for Fathi Hazem, the father of the terrorist who committed the deadly shooting attack in Tel Aviv last week.
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  • Hazem, a high-ranking officer in the Palestinian Authority security services, began a campaign of incitement shortly after his son was shot dead by Israeli troops following the deadly spree at a bar that had killed three people.
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    מחבל זוהה רעד חאזם, פתחי חאזם אביו של המחבל
    מחבל זוהה רעד חאזם, פתחי חאזם אביו של המחבל
    Fathi and Ra’ad Hazem
    In a speech he gave from his front porch in the Jenin refugee camp, Hazem said that Palestinian victory was near. "Allah will purify the Al Aqsa mosque from the impure occupiers," he told a crowd of hundreds who gathered to offer their condolences for his son's death.
    Since then, him and another son went underground to evade arrest, protected by Islamic Jihad militants from the camp.
    During his time as a senior PA security defense official, he was charged with security in the West Bank city of Nablus. During the years on the job, he had earned the reputation of an unstable person who was often in conflict with others in the security services. A Palestinian source told Ynet that he had often expressed extreme views about Israel and opposed the cooperation that was in place between the PA and the Israeli forces.
    Since Friday, Hazem has been attempting to solidify his newfound fame as a leader in the refugee camp and raise funds for himself and the Palestinian factions.
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    איום ישיר על ישראל בפיגועי התאבדות במחנה הפליטים ג'נין
    איום ישיר על ישראל בפיגועי התאבדות במחנה הפליטים ג'נין
    Armed Palestinian gunmen and potential suicide bombers in a show of strength in the Jenin refugee camp last October
    He has been trying to present himself as a father protecting his children from arrest by Israeli troops, but a closer look at his life tells another story.
    Several sources inside the Jenin camp said that in recent years Hazem has been estranged from his family.
    "He never showed any interest in his family or his children," the source said. "He never cared whether or not they studied and did not support them financially or care if they were married," they said.
    The sources added that Hazem would spend most of his time away from his home, in a small agricultural farm he owns in a village nearby, leaving the family to live in the refugee camp.
    They explained that his son was unmarried at 29, which is considered unusually old to be single for Palestinian men, and was in considerable debt. He apparently was even shot in his leg once by criminal elements in the camp.
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    תיעוד המחבל בפיגוע בדיזנגוף, תל אביב
    תיעוד המחבל בפיגוע בדיזנגוף, תל אביב
    Ra'ad Hazem on security footage minutes before launching his deadly attack in Tel Aviv on Thursday
    Hazem did not assist his son, even when he was in financial trouble, which was seen as a possible reason for his decision to commit a terrorist act.
    Hazem and his remaining son are under suspicion by Israeli security forces of providing the weapon used in the attack, and Israeli sources said he had left his farm a few days before his son set out on his murderous operation, returning to the family home inside the refugee camp.
    The Palestinian sources said that although he was affiliated with the Fatah movement, Hazem had received help from the local Islamic Jihad operatives, who have been providing him with security and transporting him from one hiding place to another.
    Although the IDF was keen to apprehend the father and brother of the Tel Aviv gunman, they say they have other priorities and do not regard the family members as "ticking time bombs".
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    פעילות כוחות צה"ל במחנה הפליטים ג'נין
    פעילות כוחות צה"ל במחנה הפליטים ג'נין
    IDF troops during an operation to locate terror suspects in the Jenin refugee camp on Tuesday
    (Photo: AFP)
    They said they preferred to focus on arresting suspects who may carry out more attacks, while avoiding a bloody battle with the armed militants.
    Israel's forces, meanwhile, continued to operate in the West Bank and round up terror suspects. They entered the city of Jenin and exchanged fire with militants.
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