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Israeli Palestinians Charged for Killing Jewish Terrorist

UPDATE: This post has been updated based on readers who corrected my misimpression of the circumstances under which Zada was killed.

Those of you who’ve visited courthouses or seen them pictured in movies will remember the statue of Justice blind-folded while holding two balanced scales.  Israel has put a new spin on this statue.  In Israel Justice may be blind-folded but she is somehow able to peek out from behind the blindfold to determine whether the detainees before her are Jewish or Palestinian.

protest against israeli jewish terror attack

Israeli Palestinians protest imprisonment of survivors of Israeli Jewish terror attack (EPA)

That’s justice Israel-style.   Israeli police charged seven of the Palestinian victims of the 2005 terror attack by Israeli serial-murderer, Eden Natan Zada.  In that bus attack, Natan Zada set out to kill as many Palestinians as possible with his IDF-issued rifle.  He succeeded in murdering four and wounding twenty-three more.

According to the official Israeli investigation, Zada was overpowered and disarmed.  When the police arrived, they handcuffed him.  Then, somehow a mob of locals gathered, overpowered the police and then lynched Zada.

If that was what happened, then the police were entirely derelict in their duty.  Once they have a suspect in custody, he is under their care and protection.  There is no way such an incident should’ve happened, even under such trying circumstances.  The argument that the police was overwhelmed by the mob simply doesn’t hold weight since they are the police.  They are armed.  They are trained.  It is their job to handle such situations.  If they can’t, they shouldn’t be police officers.  If they lose a detainee they should be fired.

While I don’t defending lynching terrorists, one can understand the emotion that fueled the rage that led to Zada’s murder.  Again, that’s why the police should’ve been there in force and should’ve immediately removed Zada from the scene.

Had Zada lived, which I wish he had, he would’ve been tried under that Israeli justice system I referred to above.  His lawyer might’ve tried to argue he was mentally unstable as Teitel’s lawyer did.  The court would’ve probably convicted him as it did Jack Teitel.  Then after years of whining and wingeing by the settler movement, a future Israeli president will commute his sentence as happened to so many previous Jewish terrorists.  Justice, Israel-style.

An Israeli court sentenced the survivors of the attack to up to two years in prison:

A Haifa district court judge said on Thursday that despite the soldier’s actions, Israel could not tolerate vigilante justice, or an “eye-for-an-eye” defence.

A funny thing about this statement: Israeli Jews routinely engage in vigilante justice when they face Palestinian terrorists.  At times they have murdered unarmed terrorists or wounded terrorists.  At times, they’ve killed terrorists in the midst of an attack.  But it’s extremely hard to distinguish between vigilante justice when it’s meted out by Palestinians or Jews.  Unless of course you’re an Israeli Jewish judge punishing Palestinians for defending their lives.

I know there will be some of the hasbara crowd who will claim that I’m defending the Palestinian murder of Jews.  Not at all.  I believe anyone, whether Palestinian or Israeli, who murders in cold blood should be arrested, tried, convicted and imprisoned.  But that also includes Jews who murder Palestinians who’ve engaged in an act of terror.  Sorry to abuse that old saying: “what’s good for the goose…”  But it’s true.  In order to mete out justice equitably and fairly no one should get a pass for murder, no matter what the circumstances.

So I’d have no problem with prosecuting the Israeli Palestinians who killed Natan Zada if those who murdered Palestinian terrorists would also be held accountable.  Here are a few examples of such cases:

Merkaz HaRav incident
The Bus 300 attack, in which the Shin Bet ordered the execution of two disarmed, bound terrorists
The Jerusalem bulldozer terror attack
Yoram Shkolnik’s 1993 murder of a bound and disarmed Palestinian assailant (unlike most of these cases Shkolnick was sentenced to prison, but given early release)
Execution of wounded Ziad Jilani after minor traffic accident mistakenly construed as terror attack

Anyone in their right mind knows that no Israeli who kills a Palestinian terrorist will ever be charged with a crime.  Thus no Palestinian facing the same situation should be either.

Here is Israeli blogger, Yoav Haifawi’s view of the court deliberations in the Zada case:

Confronted by this serious crime, the police and courts worked tirelessly – not to expose Zada’s  accomplices or prevent the next massacre but to…ensure that whoever…carr[ies out] another massacre against…Arabs could be assured to emerge unscathed. On Thursday, November 28, 2013, the panel of three judges convened for the last time – to finally send to jail those accused of assaulting Zada.

If you condone the murder of terrorists then you should condone the murder of Natan Zada.  There should only be charges brought against them if there are charges brought against every Israeli Jew who murders a Palestinian terrorist after he’s been subdued.  I also note that some wanted Palestinian militants have been apprehended, either wounded or subdued, and then murdered by security forces.

The Israeli justice system is beyond hypocritical and maintains two separate standards of judgment for killers of Jewish and Palestinian terrorists.  If you want to maintain Israel is a democracy and that all citizens are treated equally, you simply can’t.

These victims of Israeli justice may appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

{ 21 comments… add one }
  • Pip December 2, 2013, 2:09 AM

    ” overpowered him and killed him in self-defense. ”

    How was Zada a threat once he’d been overpowered?

    • Richard Silverstein December 2, 2013, 2:20 AM

      @ Pip: A terrorist who sprays bullets in a crowded bus, killing 4 and wounding 22, has no right to expect anything less than death. How are the victims supposed to tell if he’s been overpowered when he’s just killed or wounded half the bus? How is anyone supposed to stand up and shout in that melee that they should stop and let the killer live? Or do you think the whole incident happened in such an orderly fashion that they could distinguish between the precise point at which he was an active terrorist murderer and the point at which he was overpowered and no longer a threat?

      • Pip December 2, 2013, 2:39 AM

        I remember that Sirhan Sirhan was overpowered and not beaten to death after he murdered Robert Kennedy.

        • Richard Silverstein December 3, 2013, 1:42 AM

          Yes, American police are a bit better about these things. Unfortunately, Lee Harvey Oswald WAS murdered, but only because the Dallas police were corrupt and incompetent to have allowed Jack Ruby anywhere near the jail.

      • Pupl December 2, 2013, 3:34 AM

        @ RS
        I suggest you’ll get yourself aquinted with the facts.
        Nathan Zada – a jewish terorist – was disarmed by the bus passangers who were able to secure him as well. There was no doubt that he was no longer a threat at this point. The killers entered the bus from outside, while police was present on the scene, and simply lynched him, while attacking Police as well. This is a savage behivour that has no place in a law abiding society. The incident differes from most incidents you noted above – other then the 300 bus incident.

        • Richard Silverstein December 3, 2013, 1:39 AM

          I believe commenters like you when they produce credible sources to prove their claims. So do that.

          But even if what you say is true, the fault clearly lies with the police who were incompetent not to anticipate the local villagers would be enraged and want blood. Either they needed superior forces than what they had, or they needed to get Zada away from the scene as quickly as they could. It sounds like they were idiots.

      • David December 2, 2013, 10:12 PM

        The guy was subdued, had his hands tied behind his back, and was completely surrounded by dozens of people. He was clearly not a threat. This was nothing short of a lynching. This is vigilante justice, nothing more.

  • Noam December 2, 2013, 3:45 AM

    @ Richard,

    1.”The bloodshed ended only when the survivor-victims overpowered him and killed him in self-defense.”
    the bloodshed ended only when the survivor-victims overpowered him and gave him up to the police. the ones who killed Nathan Zada did it while he was bound in custody of the police and disarmed from his weapon. not a midst the attack – that i guess you know but you downplayed it.
    2. about the example you have mentioned:
    Merkaz Harav – the terrorist was killed amidst the act – what did you expect them to do?
    the bulldozer attack – same thing
    Yoram Shkolnic was tried and was in jail from 1994-2001 that’s 7 yrs (he was sentenced for 15). 5 yrs more that the maximum punishment for Zada’s killers.
    the “kav 300” is the only example you gave (and the oldest) in which you’ll find mis justice , although, you can not say that the incident was met with apathy – since then a lot have changed.

    “Anyone in their right mind knows that no Israeli who kills a Palestinian terrorist will ever be charged with a crime.”
    i just prove to you otherwise (shkolnic), and on a personal note – one of my soldiers slapped a terrorist we caught while he was under my sergeant custody and bound – he spent a 2 weeks in jail for that if i remember correctly.

    “So I’d have no problem with prosecuting the Israeli Palestinians who killed Natan Zada if those who murdered Palestinian terrorists would also be held accountable.”
    so i guess in your next piece you should write about how the Israeli court let them off too easy.

    • Richard Silverstein December 3, 2013, 1:32 AM

      @Noam: Yoram Shkolnick committed his execution style murder in 1993. Israel was then a much different place than today. There were more checks and balances, more decorum, more civility, and more tolerance. He was freed by judges after the First Intifada, during which Israel became more like the harsh, brutish place it is today. Today, NO Jew would be even be investigated for murdering a captured terrorist, let alone prosecuted and convicted.

      As for your personal righteousness while serving in the IDF, you may be (or may not be) an exemplary soldier and officer. That’s not the point. The point is that the vast majority of IDF soldiers and officers do not behave as you did. Further, even if they did, they could not be righteous as defenders of an immmoral, illegal Occupation.

      • Noam December 3, 2013, 3:57 PM

        @ richard,

        after reading other comments and responses made by you – it is obvious you didn’t know about zada’s arrest. he was handcuffed, he was disarmed. that’s the main difference between most of the cases you have presented. the proof for that is in Ari’s comment below and there are many sources to support that claim. it is a police fuck up, no doubt although they were heavily out numbered – but it doesn’t take the blame away from the perpetrators.

        “the vast majority of IDF soldiers and officers do not behave as you did.”
        i’ve seen you added examples to your thread, so i’ll add some of mine.
        last month Eden Attias was murder while sleeping in a bus by a 16 yrs old palestinian. notice that he was arrested by an IDF soldier and a boarder policeman. they probably had every law beside them to kill him but they didn’t. the killer wasn’t beaten to death as well. in fact, in the picture you published of him he’s standing on his feet, after receiving medical treatment!
        i completely disagree with your statement and i think it is based on emotion rather than actual facts. my ‘personal righteousness’ wasn’t only my own – it was my sergeant who informed me of my soldier’s wrong doing, i passed the request to my superior to sentence him and it was him who gave the punishment. so through out the all process everyone was in agreement that this soldier must be punished – by the way after he came back he was removed from being a combatant to the kitchen for the remainder of his service (almost 2 years). i’m not naiive as to say that this is how it works all the time but most of the time that’s what really happens.

        another example i can give comes from the “flip-side” – palestinians bludgeoned Baruch Goldstien to death with a fire extinguisher during the spray killing, none of them were convicted as far as i know.

        i still believe that the judge let them (back to zada’s case) go easy – he explains the reasons in the indictment.
        it is no heroic act to kill a bound man – it doesn’t matter who kills and who killed.

  • jg December 2, 2013, 4:14 AM

    When this happens in the U>S, a dangerous person with a gun on a rampage, who already shot and killed people would, in all probability, be shot instantly by police, unless the shooter immediately surrendered. Even then, that would be no guaranteed. Any movement, split second action might be all it takes for police to shoot, in “self defense” or to protect the public.
    The deplorable thing I do not understand, is doesn’t Israel have laws that protect the public and the right to defend oneself??
    A person has the right to protect themselves and others from harm’s way and a deadly shooter. I will read it again, because I do not understand. It’s an outrage to convict and imprison someone for defending themselves!

    • Richard Silverstein December 3, 2013, 1:26 AM

      @ jg: I think that if Israel was more like the U.S. it’s much more likely Zada would NOT have been killed. That he would’ve been captured, perhaps roughed up in the process, but not killed. In a society where political violence is rampant and unpunished (except Palestinian usually) the Palestinian victims knew Zada would escape serious punishment and they meted out their own. I don’t agree with it, but under the circumstances I understand it.

  • Ari Greenfield December 2, 2013, 8:46 AM

    My understanding was that Zada was restrained in handcuffs, at which point he was beat to death by a crowd… Is that correct? Generally speaking, you lose the right to self defense once the threat is controlled or eliminated.

    • Richard Silverstein December 3, 2013, 1:19 AM

      Handcuffs? Are you claiming the Palestinian bus passengers were carrying handcuffs with them?

      Zada was killed on the bus after he’d been overpowered and disarmed. I’ve never heard or read anything about handcuffs in all the stories I read about this case.

      • Ari Greenfield December 3, 2013, 2:01 AM

        It is my understanding that there were several police officers or security officials on the scene who entered the bus and bound his hands with some form of restraints (I used the term handcuffs b/c a news article linked below used handcuffs, maybe it was zip ties or rope). There is video and pictures of the guy w/ his hands bound in restraints and his weapon is no longer under his control. There is also ample evidence that the many if not all of those charged were not on the bus when then attack unfolded, so it’s a stretch to call them victims.


        • Richard Silverstein December 3, 2013, 9:45 PM

          I stand corrected. Though I wrote about the terror attack at the time, I must not have read about the follow up investigation. I don’t know how I missed this.

          My views aren’t much different I’m afraid. The main fault lay with the police. If no one was fired, demoted or charged with dereliction of duty, then punishing those who killed Zada is hypocritical. It is the job of the police, once they have a suspect in custody, to secure him & bring him safely to a police facility. If you lose control of your suspect & he’s killed while under youtpr custody, that’s the ultimate failure. You should be fired.

          So tell us who was disciplined & who fired?

          • Ari Greenfield December 4, 2013, 8:46 AM

            I believe there was an investigation into the conduct of the security/police personnel involved, although I do not recall what happened with that investigation. I understand what you are saying (about the police), but I do not agree. The ultimate responsibility should be on those who commit the act.

          • Richard Silverstein December 4, 2013, 11:41 PM

            @ Ari Greenfield: If you were Muslim & lived in a small Palestinian village and your family came running home telling you your mother had been murdered by a Jew who was still alive in the bus where he killed her, do you mean to say you’d stay home watching TV? Especially, if you knew he’d never get proper justice in your judicial system? Leave aside the fact that you are a lawyer and live in America, where there is some semblance of a rule of law.

  • Clif Brown December 2, 2013, 11:39 AM

    Your essay reminds me… years ago while I was traveling through Ohio, I believe it was, I came across a historical marker out in open country. It recounted the conviction of two people, as I recall, for the murder of a third. What made it historic was what followed: “this was the first known case of a conviction of a white person for the killing of a Native-American.”

  • Fred Plester December 3, 2013, 9:21 AM

    The individual and several right of self-defence is part of the UN charter, as well as common law in most countries that have a common law.

    However, it the man was killed by people who arrived after the threat he posed had been contained -by the people he actually threatened who’d have been able to claim self defence- then strictly speaking it is not a justifiable homicide. You don’t have to be under threat yourself, if you see a mortal threat to somebody else, but you do have to be there at the time.

    This is why a recent court martial in Wiltshire convicted “Marine A” of murder, even though the person he killed almost certainly had been trying to kill him and his fellows minutes before. But by the time Marine A shot him, the situation had changed and Marine A knew that it had changed. The calls for leniency in that case, though superficially attractive, would at least a couple of centuries of legal practice in the British armed forces. The calls are to exonerate, COMPLETELY, Marine A for doing what Lieutenant “Breaker” Morrant got a firing squad for. British military courts sent several SS men and quite a lot of Japanese officers to the gallows for doing precisely what Marine A did.

    Two year sentences suggest that the charge was culpable homicide or its Israeli equivalent, rather than murder or even manslaughter. If the man was already secured by the time his killers got on the bus, then the court was actually lenient. There’s nothing heroic about killing someone whom somebody else has overpowered.

    If it was the case that a fellow passenger killed him under fire or in the confusion immediately afterwards, then a commendation for bravery would be more in order than a criminal charge. But I suspect that if that was what happened, that would, eventually, have been the response.

    Richard, I’m afraid that a minute or less does transform right and wrong, let alone criminal liability, in this kind of situation.

    • Fred Plester December 3, 2013, 9:22 AM

      correction: would overturn at least a couple of centuries…

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