The Haifa District Court on Monday convicted seven Israeli Arabs on a number of
charges, including attempted manslaughter, in the killing of Eden Natan Zada,
the Jewish terrorist who murdered four Israeli Arabs and wounded 17 people on a
bus on August 4, 2005.
However, the court acquitted the defendants, who
are residents of Shfaram, of attempted murder.
Despite pleas of
self-defense and highlighting the fact that Jews in similar circumstances had
been found entirely innocent, four of the defendants were found guilty of
attempted manslaughter and two were convicted of intent to cause grievous bodily
All six defendants were found guilty of activities leading to
damage of the bus. The seventh defendant, Monir Zakoot, was found guilty only of
While attempted murder is punishable by a 20-year
prison sentence, attempted manslaughter generally carries a much less harsh
Three of the defendants are Muslim, three are Druse and one
is Christian. None of them were accused of murder in the indictment, filed on
June 7, 2009.
The court explained its decision to exonerate the
defendants on the charge of attempted murder by saying that it was difficult to
prove intent in such a complicated situation and that the defendants had been
uniquely provoked by Zada’s “abominable and murderous” actions.
the verdict’s announcement, some of the defendants and various community
representatives alleged that the defendants had only been protecting themselves
and that the entire prosecution showed a bias against Israeli
Zada, an AWOL soldier who was wearing his IDF uniform when he
opened fire with his army-issued M-16 on a crowded bus, was beaten to death
afterward by an angry mob, including some of the defendants.
said that “our heart is with the bereaved families who, due to the abominable
and murderous actions, lost their loved ones – Michil Bahus, Nadar Haich and the
sisters Zaar and Dina Torchi, of blessed memory.”
At the same time, the
court added that “a proper society and state cannot permit the fulfillment of
blood vengeance and lynching actions, even if the actions are performed against
“Vengeance is for God, and punishment is the function of the judicial authorities,” the court stated.
It also discussed varying
impacts on its view of the case, in light of the fact that, due to the chaos of
the moment, different defendants may not have even known while attacking Zada if
he was still alive, or if they were just kicking a dead corpse, as it is likely
that he was beaten even after his death.
After an initial rampage, Zada
was neutralized, his weapon taken and he was placed in handcuffs while being
mildly roughed up. However, after he was arrested, an angry mob wanting
retribution tried to storm the bus and began throwing metal objects and
The police and some of the Israeli Arabs in the vicinity were
able to prevent the mob from killing Zada, though he and the police were being
At this point, defendants Arkaan Korbag and Fadi Nasrallah
attacked Zada. It is unclear if there was more than a general threat to Zada,
which was why they were not convicted of attempted manslaughter.
concerned that gas leaking from the bus might lead to an explosion, several
police officers started to evacuate the bus.
The crowd responded by
surging onto the bus, neutralizing the reduced police force still protecting
Zada and beating him to death.
Defendants Naaman Bahus, Basal Kadri,
Basal Hativ and Jamil Sfori attacked Zada at this point, when he was killed, and
were therefore convicted of attempted manslaughter.
The seventh defendant
was acquitted of all charges other than attacking police because most of the
evidence against him was thrown out as having been unlawfully
An undercover agent in prison, posing as a fellow inmate,
convinced him not to cooperate with his defense attorney and got him to make
self-incriminating statements in unlawful ways.
The remaining lawfully
obtained evidence could only prove that he attacked police.
attack, the monitoring committee of the Israeli-Arab leadership called on the
police not to investigate the lynching aspect, saying that those involved acted
Photographic evidence, however, indicated that Zada was
beaten to death after he had already been subdued and handcuffed by
The police set up a special investigative team to examine the
circumstances of the attack.
While the arrests were met with stiff
criticism from leaders in the Israeli-Arab community, the police said that the
arrests set an important precedent.
“I know that there are people – and
not just in Shfaram – who will deepen their trauma, and who believe that justice
was carried out against the terrorist. But to the overwhelming majority, it is
clear that in an orderly country, one cannot take the law into one’s own hands,”
said Northern District Cmdr. Dan Ronen at the time.
officers in the Northern District stressed at the time that it was up to the
courts – not the police – to determine whether the seven were guilty of murder
or whether their actions were justified.