The State Prosecutor’s Office refused to call Eden Natan-Zada, who killed four people in a shooting spree in Shfaram in August 2005, a terrorist. The prosecution said it did not want to “defame the dead,” reveals a document relating to the exchange between prosecutors and defense attorneys of seven people accused of attempted murder for attacking Natan-Zada, who was lynched by a crowd after he opened fire in the bus.
A Haifa court on Monday acquitted seven Israeli Arabs of attempted murder in the lynching of Natan-Zada, but convicted four of them of attempted homicide and two more of aggravated assault. The court convicted all seven defendants of aggravated assault of police officers, obstruction of justice, and property damage due to rioting.
Natan-Zada, a deserter from the IDF, was believed to have committed the murders in protest against Israel’s disengagement from Gaza, which was taking place at the time. He opened fire on passengers en route to Shfaram from Haifa using his army-issued rifle. He killed the bus driver, Michel Bahus, and three passengers, Nader Hayek and two sisters, Hazar Turki and Dina Turki, and wounded 20 others.
After the indictments were filed against the seven defendants four years ago, the judges in the case recommended to both sides that they reach a plea bargain. The case was passed over to a mediator, but in August 2010 when the defense attorneys met with prosecutors, the negotiations blew up - even before the two sides discussed a deal. Instead they argued about changes the defense attorneys wanted made in the statement of facts in the indictment.
Defense attorneys wanted to add the description “terrorist” to Natan-Zada’s name in the indictment in a number of places, and have it say he acted out of “nationalistic motives.”
The prosecution refused to have Natan-Zada refeerred to as a terrorist, and the defense attorneys documented the meeting and kept a record for themselves. Nonetheless, the two sides ended up reaching a plea bargain, though it was never completed.
Despite the prosecution’s refusal, at the time of the shooting, then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called Natan-Zada’s actions an “act of terror,” and the victim’s families were recognized as being the victims of hostile acts. The judge in the case also described Natan-Zada’s actions as terror n every way.