Protest outside court
Protest outside courtIsrael news photo: Flash 90

The Haifa District Court has sentenced three men to two years in jail for the death of IDF soldier Eden Natan-Zada in 2005. Another two men were sentenced to prison time as well, while a sixth person was sentenced to probation.

Eden Natan-Zada went AWOL from the army before shooting four people to death in a bus in the Israeli-Arab town of Shfaram. Witnesses said that Zada had opened fire indiscriminately.

Zada was disarmed and taken into police custody, but was beaten to death by an angry mob before he could be taken to a police station. His parents later argued that their son was not violent or extremist, and that something may have triggered the deadly shooting.

In July, the Haifa District Court found several people who had played a part in beating Zada to death guilty of attempted manslaughter. The men who were convicted were found to have hit Zada with metal rods or rocks as he lay battered and unarmed on the floor of the bus. Several were found to have attacked police officers who tried to defend Zada as well.

“We cannot accept blood revenge and lynchings. Revenge is G-d's and punishment is meted out by the judiciary. Revenge is a wild kind of justice, and the rule of law must uproot it,” Judge Ilan Schiff said at the time.

Hundreds of Shfaram residents waited outside the courtroom Thursday as the sentences were handed down. The crowd cheered for the convicted as they left the courtroom.

Members of Knesset from Arab factions were among the crowd. Prior to the issuing of the verdicts, the MKs pledged to fight on behalf of the convicted men, and to work to ensure that they would not spend time in jail for the mob killing.