Arabs to jail over 2005 killing of Jewish terrorist gunman

The Haifa District Court on Thursday handed out jail terms ranging from 11 to 24 months to seven men convicted in the 2005 lynching of Jewish terrorist Eden Natan-Zada, an IDF soldier who was beaten to death by the masses in the Arab northern city of Shfaram (Shefa-‘Amr) after opening fire in a public bus, killing four Arab-Palestinians. “We will not accept any verdict that does not include the freedom for all the prisoners” said Communist MK Mohammed Barakeh, a Shfaram resident. “We shall organize to protest against this decision,” he added.

MK Barakeh during a meeting with thousands of Shfaram residents who demonstrated Thursday outside the Haifa District Court (Photo: Al Ittihad)

MK Barakeh during a meeting with thousands of Shfaram residents who demonstrated Thursday outside the Haifa District Court (Photo: Al Ittihad)

Defense lawyer Siry Khourieh had argued during the trial that it was unfair, as the men had acted in self-defence. Israeli Jews are seldom prosecuted for killing assailants at the scene of an incident, Khourieh said. The defendants’ attorneys asked for community service. They cited the case of David Mizrahi of Kiryat Arba settlement in the occupied Palestinian territories, who in 2009 ran over a Palestinian involved in a terror attack. Mizrahi was convicted of causing grave bodily injury and sentenced to three months community service.

Thousands of Shfaram residents and other Arabs demonstrated Thursday outside the Haifa District Court, which sentenced the defendants, who had been convicted previously. Nine demonstrators were arrested after the court ruling for “throwing rocks at police officers,” according to the Israeli police.

Natan-Zada, an AWOL soldier and Kahanist, was apparently acting in opposition to the upcoming disengagement from Gaza when, with his army-issue rifle, he boarded a bus en route to Shfaram from Haifa on that August 4, 2005. As Natan-Zada shot at passengers, the angry people stormed the bus and killed him. Due to photographs that showed him still alive after being disarmed and bound, police opened an inquiry into the circumstances of his death.  Seven residents from Shfaram were charged with attempted murder for attacking Natan-Zada. Four of the defendants were convicted in August of this year of attempted homicide and two others of aggravated assault. All seven were convicted of “aggravated assault against police officers, obstruction of justice and property damage due to rioting.”

Shfaram municipality officials and the Popular Committee set up after the event said the protest is intended to convey to the court and state that the town’s residents and Arabs in Israel in general object to the legal proceedings.  Some 2,000 people marched in the city Wednesday raising photos of the victims, calling for the indictment of whoever may have been behind Natan-Zada, rather than the defendants.