Zoabi told she is ‘not immune to police probe’

Zoabi told she is ‘not immune to police probe’

Arab Israeli MK under investigation for incitement and attacking cop prevented from accessing details of case

Yifa Yaakov is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Balad MK Hanin Zoabi protesting at a Haifa demonstration against the IDF's operation in the Gaza Strip, July 2014 (photo credit: Channel 2 screen capture)
Balad MK Hanin Zoabi protesting at a Haifa demonstration against the IDF's operation in the Gaza Strip, July 2014 (photo credit: Channel 2 screen capture)

MK Hanin Zoabi, currently under investigation on suspicion of engaging in incitement and attacking a police officer, was told on Tuesday that she could not access the details of her own case.

Zoabi, a Balad MK from the Arab city of Nazareth, was informed by Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein that she would not be able to review the allegations against her, as her immunity as a lawmaker did not make her immune to being investigated by police.

Several days earlier, she had asked Weinstein to send her the information ahead of her first questioning session.

When Zoabi failed to appear at the police station for the session on Tuesday, Weinstein informed her that she was barred from viewing the information and that she must attend her police hearings. He said the authorities were not required to share allegations with suspects, even if they are lawmakers.

Weinstein stressed that Zoabi, like all lawmakers, was not immune from investigation.

“MK Zoabi can consult an attorney, like any other suspect,” Weinstein wrote. “However, no suspect has the right to receive a description of the incidents and allegations in the investigation [against them] ahead of time.”

Zoabi is under investigation for saying that the killers of three Israeli teens in June were not terrorists. She is also under investigation for accosting a police officer in Nazareth.

Last week, the Knesset Ethics Committee suspended Zoabi from participating in debates on the Knesset floor for six months.

At least one police officer said Zoabi, a lawmaker from the Balad party, had used offensive language against him on July 6.

An officer of the Nazareth police department said that Zoabi approached him and another officer at the Nazareth Magistrate’s Court and “began making highly offensive remarks and addressing people there in a manner which raises suspicion of insulting a civil servant and incitement to violence,” the police said in a statement on July 9, after it recommended starting the investigation.

The statement did not say what Zoabi is believed to have told the officers.

Last month, thousands of demonstrators in Haifa, led by Zoabi, clashed with police as they attempted to block several roads in the coastal city during a rally against the IDF’s ongoing ground incursion in the Gaza Strip.

Some of the protesters were reported to have waved Palestinian flags as they chanted slogans welcoming Hamas rocket fire at Tel Aviv. The demonstrators also shouted out slogans against Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Haifa police handcuffed Zoabi for unruly behavior at the demonstration. She was released thanks to her parliamentary immunity after a senior police officer recognized her.

However, Weinstein later instructed police to launch a criminal investigation into Zoabi’s actions, on suspicion she had incited others to violence and insulted two police officers.

A number of police officers and protesters, among them Balad MK Jamal Zahalka, who also took part in the rally, were lightly injured and received medical treatment at the spot.

Zoabi, who participated in the 2010 flotilla sail to Gaza organized by the Islamic IHH group in Turkey, recently angered right-wing lawmakers with articles she penned that they interpreted as advice to Hamas on how to defeat Israel and as a call for violence against Israel.

“The Israelis want a short campaign, the civilian population cannot stomach a prolonged conflict and there are many surprises not only on the military level but also with regard to the number and range of the rockets,” she wrote in an op-ed for Felesteen, an Arab-language publication. “We must declare popular resistance instead of security coordination, besiege ‘Israel’ instead of negotiating with it and unite instead of splinter,” she wrote.

In the article, the Jewish state’s name appeared in quotation marks — a style used by some Arab writers to refer to Israel without implying recognition of its legitimacy.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

read more: