To his family and the residents of his village, 31-yearold Nashat Milhem is a mentally troubled young man who never gave any indication he would carry out an atrocity on the streets of Tel Aviv and become the subject of a massive Shin Bet and Israel Police manhunt.
Despite the protestations, however, Friday wasn’t the first time Milhem found himself on the wrong side of the law; he once served a four year prison term for attacking a soldier in an attempt to snatch his service weapon.
On Friday, when surveillance camera footage of Milhem was made public, his father, Muhammad, a security guard and police volunteer, contacted the police and identified his son as the shooter and said he had stolen his submachine gun to carry out the shooting.
Channel 2 reported on Saturday that the gun previously had been confiscated by police after a complaint about threats made by a member of the family, but was returned a month ago.
The family’s lawyer, Sami Milhem, described Nashat Milhem as a mentally troubled young man who is not an Islamist or influenced by Islamic State, saying: “If you saw him on the street, you’d say he’s not right in the head.”
He also said he believes that Milhem was not responsible for the shooting and hopes that will prove to be the case.
On Saturday, police raided the family home, taking away a computer belonging to Milhem and arresting two of his brothers on suspicion of having assisted in the attack. One of the brothers was taken for a remand extension at the Haifa Magistrate’s Court on Saturday night, where his remand was extended by five days in a closed-door hearing.
Milhem largely fits the profile of many of the lone-wolf attackers in the ongoing wave of terrorism – he was not a known member of any armed group or terrorist organization and was apparently not on the radar of the security services as a possible terrorist threat.