‘They murdered him; all of the family killed him’

Brothers of cab driver Amin Shaaban blame alleged TA gunman Nashat Milhem’s family

Taxi driver Ayman Shaaban of Lod, is believed to have been murdered by the suspected gunman in the New Year's Day shooting in Tel Aviv (photo credit: Courtesy)
Taxi driver Ayman Shaaban of Lod, is believed to have been murdered by the suspected gunman in the New Year's Day shooting in Tel Aviv
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Amin Shaaban’s family had finished taking down the mourners tent in Lod on Wednesday when they finally got official word that police suspect alleged gunman Nashat Milhem murdered Shaaban after last week’s shooting rampage in Tel Aviv.
Within minutes the text messages circulated through the entire extended family, and they started making their way back to the Shaaban home to continue mourning.
“When we got the official news it was like he was murdered again, it was like another tragedy was done to our family,” said Razi Shaaban, Amin’s older brother and the patriarch of sorts of the family ever since their father died when Amin was five years old.
To Razi, Amin was more than a little brother; he was almost like a son.
Razi held his phone, watching an interview he gave with Ynet earlier in the day, during which he refused to speak to an uncle of Milhem. As Razi and other relatives describe it, Amin’s family sees the Milhems as directly responsible for his murder, and sees no reason to reach out to them, much less to forgive.
“They murdered him, the Milhem family murdered him.
Them, Nashat, what’s the difference? They murdered him,” Razi said on Thursday outside the Shaaban family home in Lod’s Kaf Samech neighborhood, a warren of dirt roads and tin-roofed shacks that was long one of the neighborhoods that helped make the city a center of the drug trade in Israel.
Razi said he blames Nashat Milhem’s father, Muhammad – a former volunteer police officer – for not keeping the submachine gun used in the shooting attack out of his son’s hands, especially after his son built up a criminal record and after – according to relatives of Milhem – he started showing signs of mental illness.
“I also blame the police; they should have come and taken the gun away, they should have never returned it,” he added, mentioning the fact that the submachine gun had been confiscated by the police months earlier, after they received a complaint that a member of the family had been making threats. After keeping it in storage for over a month, they returned the firearm to the family after it filed a motion through an attorney.
As Razi Shaaban spoke, a police officer arrived at the compound along with a parliamentary aide, who examined the site ahead of a visit by an MK.
Razi said he couldn’t remember whom the aide worked for, or who was expected to arrive, but did say he heard President Reuben Rivlin said Thursday he planned to visit the family. On Thursday the president visited the families of Alon Bakal and Shimon Ruime, both killed in Friday’s attack on Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv, but as of Thursday afternoon, Shaaban said no national politicians had come to pay their respects to the family.
He did mention, though, that Lod Mayor Yair Revivo visited on several occasions this week, and that hundreds of friends of Amin – both Jewish and Arab – had come to see the family, including many of his co-workers from the Tamar taxi dispatch that works at Ben-Gurion Airport.
Amin Shaaban leaves behind a sprawling extended family.
He was one of 18 brothers and sisters from the same father and two mothers, and himself was the father of 12 children by three wives. On Thursday, a number of Shaaban’s children milled around the compound, though since Friday they had been mainly in the care of the extended family, Shaaban’s brother Jamil said.
“The children are all in shock and they’re going to need therapy for years,” Jamil said, before describing Amin as a loving father and friend, who didn’t have any enemies.
Jalil, like others, showed no sympathy for the Milhem family, especially not for the fact that Muhammad Milhem and a number of other relatives had been arrested by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and police on suspicion of being accomplices to the attack.
Nor did they think much of Muhammad’s condemnations of the shooting or his repeated calls for Nashat to turn himself in to authorities.
“We blame all of the family, but mainly the father. It was his gun; he was in law enforcement, and not a child. He knew that he had to safeguard the weapon and he knew his son had problems.”
Jalil said he believes that Nashat had trained with the gun before the shooting, and accused his father of showing him how to operate it.
When asked if he thought any members of the Shaaban family would seek vengeance on the Milhem family, he said, “We honor the law and won’t take the law into our own hands. We trust the government to put them on trial and I hope that they receive the most severe punishment possible.”
On the day of the murder, the family first realized something was amiss when they received a call from police saying that Amin’s taxi was blocking traffic on Namir Road in north Tel Aviv, Jalil said. Police had called the number on the side of the taxi, which they suspect was abandoned by Milhem on Namir Road after he hailed Amin’s cab on Ibn Gvirol Street and rode with him to an open area near the Glilot Interchange and murdered him, fleeing in the taxi.
Around 10 o’clock on Friday evening, Jalil said the family was told by detectives from the Tel Aviv district that Amin had been murdered, but gave no further details, leaving them to put together the puzzle on their own, mainly through reports leaking out in the media.
Though he and the rest of the family are focused on grieving for a beloved son, brother, and father, Jalil sees their tragedy as part of a far larger one.
“Amin is very important to me, but there are also two other victims who were murdered in cold blood because of the neglect of the [Milhem] family,” he said.