Israeli Arab Shooter—Lone Wolf or Hero of His Community?
Milhem was an individual. But difficult questions arise, such as—how was he able to hide in Arara, a small, tightly-knit Arab village, for over a week? Who helped him? How many knew?
At the time of writing, seven Israeli Arabs from Arara—most or all of them relatives of Milhem—are in custody on suspicion of helping him escape, hide, or possibly plan the crime; two more—his father and a brother—have been released to house arrest.
As Alex Fishman, an Israeli commentator on security affairs, put it: “Even if he did act as a ‘lone wolf terrorist’…it’s clear that he had partners. The supply prepared for him at the safe house he hid in, only 400 meters from where he was killed, allowed him to feel secure and wrapped by a supporting environment….”
In other words, even though Milhem murdered two Israeli Jewish civilians and an Israeli Arab civilian, for some as yet undetermined number of residents of his village, loyalty to him trumped loyalty to state security.
Also at the time of writing, Israeli public security minister Gilad Erdan said he was refusing to release Milhem’s body for burial until the family could ensure that “the terrorist’s funeral does not turn into a rally in support of terror and incitement to further attacks….” (Update: The family finally agreed to a small, modest funeral at which cries of "Nashat the martyr!" were heard.)
To sum up, the Israeli government is right both to crack down on the sector and to try and improve the Israeli Arabs’ lot. They are, after all, citizens, and some are loyal, others at worst passively antagonistic. Even, though, at a time when other Western countries are having trouble with Arab and Muslim populations, one can’t be optimistic that Israel will get much understanding for the difficult dilemmas it faces in dealing with this community.