Who really killed the Tel Aviv taxi driver?

Who really killed the Tel Aviv taxi driver?
3 min read
08 January, 2016
In-depth: The facts had not been established in the immediate aftermath of the death, so why did Israeli officials jump to conclusions, if not to push a narrative demonising Palestinians?
The hunt for Milhem continues [AFP]
The killer of a taxi driver from Tel Aviv remains unproven, despite officials conflating the crime with another attack in the city on the same day.

Israeli security authorities are still searching for Nashat Milhem, who, they allege, shot eight people in Tel Aviv a week ago, killing two.

After the shooting on Friday, it is claimed Milhem, reportedly a Palestinian from northern Israel, threw away his mobile phone and hailed a cab that took him to northern Tel Aviv, where he is said to have killed the driver and escaped in the car before abandoning it and disappearing.

The identity of the taxi driver was kept under wraps until five days after the attacks. The victim, Amin Shaaban, is a Palestinian citizen of Israel, and a father of 11 from Lod.

Failing to disclose the Palestinian identity of the victim helped the Israeli authorities boost their narrative of incitement against Palestinian citizens of Israel, say analysts.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu came under fire after delivering a speech on a visit to the scene of the shooting on Saturday.

In his speech, Netanyahu demanded "loyalty to the laws of the state from everyone," asserting that "one cannot say 'I am Israeli in my rights and Palestinian in my responsibilities'.

"I am not willing to accept two states within Israel, a state of law for most of its citizens and a state within a state for some of its citizens," he said. "Whoever wants to be Israeli must be Israeli all the way."

Read more: Netanyahu delivers 'racist' speech at scene of recent shooting

Taxi camera

Israeli police have refused to provide Shabaan's family with video footage from a camera installed in his taxi, raising questions over whether the police are attempting to hide information or otherwise control the official narrative regardless of the facts of the case.

Israel Police Commissioner Inspector-General Roni Alsheich said on Wednesday that the police would not provide further information about the case as the priority was to find Milhem, not focus on the deceased.

Milhem apparently obtained the licensed semi-automatic weapon he allegedly used in the shooting by stealing it from his father, a security guard.

The father condemned the killing and called on his son to turn himself in, but he was arrested and remains in police custody, accused of complicity in planning the attack and of aiding his son.

Milhem's mother was also questioned by investigators for 12 hours. She told Israeli Channel 2 that investigators told her the family home could be destroyed if they did not cooperate.

Palestinians living in Israel make up a fifth of the country's 8.4 million people and have long complained of unfair treatment in areas such as housing and employment opportunities.

Israeli police officially named Milhem the prime suspect in Shaaban's murder late on Wednesday.