The Haifa Magistrate's Court acquitted three Israeli men of instigation charges on Monday, after finding them not guilty of incitement to violence.
The three – Yaacov Paucci, 29, of the West Bank settlement Kfar Tapuach, Ephraim Hershkovitz, 25, of Jerusalem and Yigal Ben Naftali, 27, of Holon – were indicted for putting up posters praising Jewish terrorist Eden Natan Zada in several of the northern Arab town of Shfaram's streets, on the anniversary of his death.
Eden Natan Zada boarded a Shfaram city bus in August of 2005 and proceeded to opened fire on the passengers. Four people were killed and 22 others were wounded. The 19-year old was eventually overpowered by other passengers and was later beaten to death by an angry crowd which gathered outside the bus.
Justice Zaid Falah found the three not guilty of violating Israeli anti-incitement laws, noting in his ruling that the posters, calling for those who beat Zada to death to be tried, were not in breach of the statute.
Paucci, Hershkovitz and Naftali were indicted in 2006 and pled no guilty. The defense claimed that the posters were "merely a way to protest the lack of police action in the investigation of the lynching of Eden Natan Zada. The defendants' sole wish is to see his killers brought to justice."
The prosecution, said the court, failed to prove a case of incitement, "despite the fact that the posters, the images and wording used in them and the timing of their posting, were obviously inflammatory.
"As for the potential effect they might have had, that remains a conjecture," added Falah.
"The posters contain a spiteful messaged and hanging them on the one-month anniversary of Zada's death, within Shfaram's limits, were only meant to spite more; however, freedom of expression is for all, and must be applied equally.
"That is the nature of democracy and of free speech. If we wish to celebrate democracy, we must resign ourselves to its flaws as well," concluded Falah.