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Palestinian Israelis convicted in gunman case

Israel court convicts seven Palestinian-Israeli citizens in connection with the death in 2005 of a Jewish gunman.

Last Modified: 29 Jul 2013 20:24
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Hazar and Dina Turki were two of the victims of Eden Nathan-Zaada when he opened fire on a bus in Shfaram [EPA]

An Israeli court has convicted seven Palestinian Israeli citizens in connection with the death in 2005 of a Jewish gunman after he went on a lethal shooting rampage on a bus in their town.

While none of the men were found guilty on Monday of directly causing the death of Eden Nathan-Zaada, a 19-year-old army deserter and far-right West Bank settler, some members of Israel's Palestinian minority deplored the verdict as a sign of discrimination.

Wearing a military uniform and Jewish skullcap, Nathan-Zaada opened fire aboard a bus in the northern town of Shfaram, killing four Palestinian Israelis.

His victims were two sisters in their early twenties, Hazar and Dina Turki, the bus driver Michel Bahus, and Nader Hayek.

Twenty-two people, all but seven of them Palestinian Israelis, were wounded.

Enraged residents of the largely Palestinian populated town killed Nathan-Zaada at the scene, as police tried to intervene.

Security officials said later the gunman had apparently hoped to trigger sectarian violence to try and derail Israel's Gaza Strip withdrawal, which went ahead weeks later.

Haifa District Court convicted four Shfaram men of attempted manslaughter, two others of serious aggravated assault and a seventh of assault and obstruction of a police officer.

'Murdered in cold blood'

Defence lawyer Siry Khourieh said "the indictments in my opinion should have never been presented," having argued in court the men had acted in self-defence, and that Israeli Jews were seldom prosecuted for killing assailants at the scene of an incident.

The court found for the prosecution, that the soldier had already been subdued, disarmed and handcuffed by police after his shooting spree, when a mob set upon him, stomping on and stoning him to death.

Kamal Shehadin, deputy mayor of Shfaram, among a few dozen protesters outside the court, said his constituents "feel discriminated against".

"Four people were murdered in cold blood and the court comes to judge these men, who if they hadn't defended themselves, more blood could have been spilled," Shehadin said.

The six defendants convicted of the worst offences face a maximum penalties of 14 years' imprisonment. Their attorney, Khourieh, said he expected far lighter sentences at a hearing scheduled for November.

"We have no end of mitigating circumstances here," Khourieh told the Reuters news agency.

Palestinian Israelis make up about a fifth of Israel's mostly Jewish population.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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