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 AWOL IDF soldier who was beaten to death by a mob in the northern city of Shfaram after opening fire in a public bus, killing four.
Four of the defendants, found guilty of attempted manslaughter, assaulting a police officer, rioting and interfering with a police investigation, received prison sentences ranging from 20 months to two years. A fifth defendant, found guilty of all the charges except attempted manslaughter, was sentenced to 18 months. A sixth defendant facing lesser charges was sentenced to 11 months in prison and the seventh defendant received eight months’ probation.
All the seven are from Shfaram, where the shooting took place.
Hundreds of residents of the Arab-Israeli village of Shfaram and other supporters rallied in their defense outside the court in Haifa on Thursday. Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said 9 demonstrators were arrested after the court ruling for throwing rocks at police officers.
MK Hanin Zoabi, who recently failed in her bid to become mayor of Nazareth, was also in attendance at the sentencing hearing, the Maariv newspaper reported, as were some 500 police officers.
In handing down the sentences, judge Ilan Schiff said that the state “cannot tolerate acts of retribution” even if they were unplanned, and noted the brutal nature of the mob violence which killed Zada.
On August 4, 2005, shortly before the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, an AWOL IDF soldier, Eden Natan Zada, opened fire on a public bus traveling through an Arab village, killing four Israeli Arabs — Michael Bachus, Nader Khaik and the sisters Hazar and Dina Turki — and wounding 22 before he was subdued and beaten to death by the other passengers.
Zada killed his victims, the judges wrote, “simply because they were Arabs.”
After the killing spree, and with Zada handcuffed and in police custody on the bus, the crowd prevented Israeli police from defending Zada and pummeled him for an hour, until long after he was dead. Later, as part of a massive police investigation, 12 Shfaram residents were arrested, with seven going on trial.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.