The court sentenced 6 of the 7 convicted of lynching the soldier who murdered 4 people in Shfar’am to jail time. Some of their supporters rioted outside the court, throwing stones and blocking roads

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6 of the 7 who were convicted for attempted manslaughter and aggravated assault of Jewish soldier Eden Nathan Zada, who opened fire inside a bus in Shfar’am 8 years ago killing 4 passengers, were sentenced to jail time.

Three of the accused were sentenced to 2 years of imprisonment. Another was sentenced to 20 months, another accused to 18 months and a third was sentenced to 11 years. The 7th man accused in the affair was sentenced to just 8 months of imprisonment.

“It is very hard to set a punishment for attempted manslaughter according to the ruling” the judges wrote. “It is a rare offence, but it can be determined that the appropriate punishment range in cases of an attempt to harm the sanctity of life, even after major provocation such as that before us, includes jail time”.

The judges also noted the continuation of proceedings in the case, as the indictment was served 4 years after the event and the verdict 8 years after the event. On the other hand, the judges noted that the defendants did not admit the charges, did not take responsibility for their actions and none of them expressed regret for his actions.

“The prosecution is right in its argument that taking the law in to one’s own hand in such a cruel fashion, that endangers a life, even if he is a murderer, cannot be treated forgivingly” the judges ruled. “We must broadcast that anyone who commits similar acts under circumstances like these, regardless of race, religion or affiliation, will be punished and will not be defended by the ancient defense of ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’ that was right at the time in the absence of authorities for law enforcement. It is appropriate that this echo in the hearts of vengeance-seekers”.

Basel Hatib, one of those involved who was sentenced to two years of imprisonment, told Channel 2 Online News on his way out of court: “It is racism, we are innocent, I shouldn’t have been sentenced to even one day in prison”.

Soldier Eden Nathan Zada

Soldier Eden Nathan Zada Photography:

“They deserve a commendation”

Hundreds of young Arabs gathered outside the court in Haifa, and protested in support of the convicted. The many gathered protestors called to release those who lynched Zada. Throughout the eight years in which the trial was conducted, the defendants argued that they deserve a commendation for the incident, because they defended the citizens of Shfar’am. 9 protesters were arrested after causing disturbances.

Minor confrontations broke out in the court plaza in Haifa when a lone protestor, a Jewish man, called out insults at the hundreds of Arab protestors. Police stood between the two camps and the quiet was maintained.

Protestors outside court today

Protestors outside court today Photography: Alon Shanny

The soldier murdered 4 people

Eden Nathan Zada was 19 then, an IDF deserter who still held his personal weapon – an M16. When the bus he was on arrived at the Druze neighborhood in Shefa-‘Amr, around 17:30, Zada opened indiscriminate fire at the buss’s passengers using the M16 rifle in his possession killing 4 people and injuring 9. Nathan Zada did not know any of his victims. He shot at them just for being Arab. The bus passenger that were not hurt managed to stop Zada, overpower and disarm him and turn him over to the police officer who boarded the bus.

But then the acts of vengeance came. A group of furious residents attacked Zada and the officers holding him. He was hit with fists, kicks and objects while calls to kill him could be heard. The infuriated mob outside the bus through stones and metals and other objects at the soldier, the lynching ended with the soldier’s death.

After a long investigation 12 Arab citizens were arrested and accused of attempted murder, assault on a police officer under grievous circumstances, obstructing a police officer and rioting with damage caused. Along the way charges were dropped against some of the suspects, and finally 7 civilians were left on the defendant’s bench, who were sentenced today