Ethics panel won’t sanction Likud MKs for yelling at bereaved parents
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Ethics panel won’t sanction Likud MKs for yelling at bereaved parents

Citing apologies by David Bitan and Miki Zohar, committee says 'no room' to seek penalties

MK David Bitan rebukes bereaved parents during a Knesset State Control Committee discussion about Israel‘s 2014 Gaza war against Hamas, April 19, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
MK David Bitan rebukes bereaved parents during a Knesset State Control Committee discussion about Israel‘s 2014 Gaza war against Hamas, April 19, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The Knesset’s Ethics Committee on Thursday decided against imposing penalties on two Likud lawmakers for fighting with the parents of slain IDF soldiers during a parliamentary hearing last month.

Citing the public apologies by MK David Bitan and MK Miki Zohar after their outbursts, which drew widespread criticism, the panel said it would not seek sanctions against the pair.

“After MKs Bitan and Zohar apologized publicly before the bereaved families, the Ethics Committee found there was no room to intervene in the matter,” the decision said.

During the meeting last month focused on a damning state comptroller report on the government’s handling of the 2014 Gaza war, Ilan Sagi — whose son Erez was killed when terrorists emerged from a tunnel and attacked his pillbox near Nahal Oz — accused Bitan of mistreating him during an earlier encounter.

Bereaved father Ilan Sagi speaks out at the Knesset State Control Committee discussion about the 2014 Gaza war on April 19, 2017. Lea Goldin is sitting to his right. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Bereaved father Ilan Sagi speaks out at the Knesset State Control Committee discussion about the 2014 Gaza war on April 19, 2017. Lea Goldin is sitting to his right. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

He described standing outside the Prime Minister’s Office holding a sign asking for an inquiry into the failures of the Gaza war. “This big wise guy comes along, the one who talks the most [Bitan], and he tells me, ‘Go, this won’t help. You said that!’” Sagi claimed, looking at Bitan.

“You are a liar! I have never spoken with you!” Bitan, who serves as coalition chairman, shouted back at him in the middle of the meeting. “Stop exploiting this to lie here!”

In another tense moment, Leah Goldin, whose son Hadar’s remains are being held by Hamas along with those of fellow soldier Oron Shaul, charged that Netanyahu had turned the bereaved families into “enemies of the people… You have turned the problem of returning the boys into a problem of the families,” she said.

Lea Goldin, mother of fallen IDF soldier Hadar Goldin, speaks at a State Control Committee hearing in the Knesset on April 19, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Lea Goldin, mother of fallen IDF soldier Hadar Goldin, speaks at a State Control Committee hearing in the Knesset on April 19, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Zohar retorted that her claims were “exaggerated.”

“Don’t answer me. Such insolence!” cried Goldin, throwing a plastic cup in his direction. “I don’t even know your name.”

Likud parliament member Miki Zohar attends a Finance committee meeting, during a vote on the 2017-2018 state budget, at the Knesset in Jerusalem on December 19, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Likud parliament member Miki Zohar. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The two MKs offered apologies to the families following the incident.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was present at the meeting, condemned the incident five days later. A letter from the bereaved families later decried Netanyahu’s comments as “too little too late.”

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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