Israeli Arabs Sentenced to Two Years for 2005 Lynching of Spree Killer Soldier

Lynching followed shooting spree in which Kahanist soldier Eden Natan-Zada killed four Israeli Arabs and wounded more than 20.

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
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Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

Six Israeli Arabs were sentenced Thursday to terms of up to two years in jail for their role in lynching Eden Natan-Zada, who killed four Israeli Arabs and wounded more than 20 in a shooting spree on a bus in Shfaram in 2005.

Na’aman Bahus, Basel Kadari and Jamil Sapori, who were convicted of attempted manslaughter, were each sentenced to two years. Basel Khatib, convicted of the same charge, was sentenced to 20 months, while Fadi Nasrallah and Arkan Kurbaj, both convicted of aggravated assault, were sentenced to 18 and 11 months, respectively. All six were also found guilty of assaulting policemen. Munir Zakut, who was convicted only of assaulting a policeman, received an eight-month suspended sentence.

Judges Ilan Shiff, Hanny Horowitz and Tsila Keinan of the Haifa District Court said that jail terms were necessary to uphold two vital social values: the sanctity of life and law and order. Nevertheless, they added, the sentences would have been much stiffer had it not been for “the unique circumstances of the case,” which they said made it one of the hardest sentencing decisions they had ever faced.

The sentences will be deferred for 45 days while the defendants decide whether to appeal. But defense attorneys said that from a legal standpoint, they were actually satisfied with the court’s leniency, noting that prosecutors had sought jail terms of six to nine years. Sentences that didn’t include jail time were never a realistic expectation, said one, Maher Talhami.

The defendants, however, disagreed, as did the hundreds of Shfaram residents and Israeli Arab political activists who demonstrated outside the court yesterday. “The sentence revealed the state’s racist face,” Sapori charged. “If we had been Jews, they surely wouldn’t have sent us to jail.”

The demonstrators denounced the legal system vociferously, and at one point, during a scuffle with police, rocks and stun grenades were thrown. Ten demonstrators were arrested.

In Shfaram itself, a general strike was called to protest the ruling. Mayor Amin Anabtawi explained that most residents think the seven should never have been indicted to begin with.

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 August 4, 2005. As Natan-Zada shot at passengers, an angry mob stormed the bus and killed him. Police opened an inquiry into his death after viewing photographs that showed him still alive after being disarmed and bound.

Protests outside the Haifa District Court during the sentencing hearing in the lynching of Eden Natan-Zada. Credit: Rami Shlush
Defendants in the lynching of Eden Natan-Zada at court, November 28, 2013.Credit: Rami Shalush
People surrounding the bus shortly after the attack in Shfaram Credit: Ancho Gosh/Gini

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