Knesset member says IDF is like Islamic State
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Knesset member says IDF is like Islamic State

MKs from across political spectrum pan Hanin Zoabi remarks as racism, incitement; some call for her imprisonment

Lazar Berman is a former breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Arab Knesset member Hanin Zoabi holds a press conference in the Knesset. (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Arab Knesset member Hanin Zoabi holds a press conference in the Knesset. (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Israeli Arab Knesset member Hanin Zoabi compared Israel Defense Forces soldiers to Islamic State terrorists on Sunday, saying that a pilot who bombs Palestinians “is no less a terrorist than someone who takes a knife and cuts off someone’s head.

“They kill one by one with their knife, and in the IDF they kill dozens of Palestinians with one button,” the Balad party MK told Channel 2. “Though the soldier remains in the plane when he bombs, and though he doesn’t see his victim… he is no less a terrorist than someone who takes a knife and cuts off a head. And someone who takes pictures with bodies, laughs with bodies of Palestinians — I don’t think he is any less of a terrorist than someone who cuts off a head. They’re killing more than the knife.

“M16s, tanks, and aerial bombings that kill dozens and hundreds, are more terrorists than the knife… They take pictures here and take pictures there, here they take pictures with the knife and there they take pictures with bodies, with their bodies, and are also laughing.

“I say that both of them are armies of murderers, they have no limit and they have no red line,” she added.

Zoabi also defended the soccer team Bnei Sakhnin for honoring her mentor, former Knesset member, and suspected Hezbollah spy, Azmi Bishara.

“This is incitement for the sake of incitement; we want support from the entire Arab world, we are part of the Arab world. The support is for sports, for the youth, recreation spots,” she said. “Sports keeps youths away from violence, from going out to the streets and getting into all sorts of anti-social phenomena like drugs and violence.

“We will visit Azmi Bishara, he will remain our friend, we have friendly connections and he will remain our friend, he is an Arab intellectual,” she said.

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz blasted Zoabi on his Facebook page. “This is a clear act of libel, treason, and sedition,” he said. “During the next cabinet meeting, I will demand that we instruct the legal system to find a legal way to remove her from the Knesset and immediately expel her from the country. There is a limit to what a sovereign state can and should absorb from a certified traitor.”

Likud MK Miri Regev said Zoabi was “a dangerous enemy for Israel, and her place is in prison and not in the Knesset. With her words of incitement, she is as dangerous as a terrorist.”

Her fellow Likud MK Danny Danon agreed that Zoabi should be sent to prison: “Her words long ago crossed the bounds of morality and justice, adding another layer to the petition I submitted to the Supreme Court, asking that she be prosecuted and removed from the Knesset.”

Aliza Lavie, the Yesh Atid parliamentarian who heads the Committee on the Advancement of Women, called Zoabi’s interview the latest “in a series of racist, anti-Semitic statements and actions.”

MKs further to the left weren’t much gentler on Zoabi. “The time has come for her to simply shut up a little,” Labor Party MK Itzik Shmuli wrote on his Facebook page.

In August, Zoabi petitioned the High Court of Justice against a Knesset Ethics Committee decision to ban her for six months from parliament debates for declaring that the Palestinian kidnappers of three Israeli teenagers were not terrorists.

Following the abduction of Naftali Fraenkel, 16; Gil-ad Shaar, 16; and Eyal Yifrach, 19, on June 12, suspicions quickly pointed toward Hamas operatives as being behind the attack. At the time, Zoabi said that the kidnappers “are not terrorists.”

In August, police recommended that Zoabi be put on trial for incitement, threats and maligning a civil servant after a month earlier two policemen, themselves Arabs, complained that during hearings for the extension of arrest for Israeli Arabs who demonstrated against Operation Protective Edge, she insulted them with a spiteful outburst.

Zoabi also angered right-wing lawmakers who said articles she published during Operation Protective Edge constituted advice to Hamas on how to defeat Israel.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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