Some 500 people, including Knesset members and mayors, came to the northern village of Shfaram on Saturday to protest the state prosecution's decision to indict 12 residents on the city on charges that they had lynched Eden Natan Zada. Some of the protesters waved Palestinian flags.
Zada shot four people to death on a Shfaram bus and injured several others in an August 2005 killing spree. He was later beaten to death by angry town residents after police had arrested him.
Jamil Safuri, one of the 12 men indicted for the lynching, said during the protest that "all Arab citizens of Israel are united in our struggle, because it is clear to all of them of that we are the victim and those who support Zada are the real murderers."
Protesters waves signs in Hebrew and Arabic, reading "one murderer, but many criminals" and "Shfaram demands that the Attorney General close the cases and arrest the real murderers." There were no public disturbances during the protest and police were not called to the area.
Balad Chariman Jamal Zahalka called during the rally "to expose the information that was in the hands of security forces, police, Shin Bet and the IDF regarding Nathan-Zada's intentions."
"The police have something to hide and this is why they are turning 12 residents into victims and pouring salt on their wounds. After the murder, there was a promise to investigate this seriously. The indictments must be dismissed because this was a case of self-defense," Zahalka said.
Sheikh Raad Salah, the head of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, told Ynet after the protest that "the Israeli establishment must void these indictments and expose who stood behind this murderer (Zada)."
"They are the ones who need to receive punishment and not residents of Shfaram, who were victims of a massacre right next to their homes," he added.
'Seeking for equality and justice'Shfaram mayor Nehad Hazam said that there was respectable representation from all sectors of the Arab population in Israel at the rally, including two primary bodies in the community – the Arab Monitoring Committee and the Committee of Local Arab Leaders.
"I want to remind everyone that the people of Shfaram were on the way home from work and they were the ones who were attacked. Natan Zada was not kidnapped to Shfaram. He came in order to murder as many Arabs as possible," Hazam said.
Last Tuesday, a general strike was held in Shfaram, in which all public services, with the exception of schools, were closed. Another meeting is expected in the city, this time among family members of those murdered and local Arab leadership, in order to decide what the next steps should be.