A small group of protesters, including Likud MK Oren Hazan, temporarily blocked buses carrying Palestinians from Gaza who were on their way to visit their relatives in an Israeli prison on Monday.
Surrounded by a media gaggle, Hazan and the others blocked the entrance to the Nafha prison in southern Israel to protest the fact that Hamas has refused to give Israel or the Red Cross information about Israeli captives it holds.
In the morning, Hazan tweeted that he had set off to Nafha, saying he wanted to end visits for prisoners and to challenge the “families of these animals.”
The lawmaker boarded the bus and confronted the family members of the jailed Palestinians. “A terrorist is a terrorist,” he said in Hebrew to the Gazans. “They all deserve the same fate — to be put underground.”
One of the family members denied the group had any ties to the Hamas terror organization, which controls the Gaza Strip.
“Make peace, free our children and they will free your children,” she said. “This is not our problem. Why are you speaking like this to us?… Go speak to [Hamas leader] Ismail Haniyeh and with Hamas.”
Despite the woman’s disavowal, Hazan continued with his threats.
“I understand that there are no families of Hamas terrorists here,” he said. “But I’ll tell you: if you don’t understand that you should bow your heads and thank us for dealing with you at all, and thank the State of Israel, which gives you the right to come here — we’ll throw you out of here.
“We’ll wipe your disgusting smiles off your faces,” he continued. “If you don’t understand nice speech, you’ll understand force.”
Eventually the bus was able to continue to the prison, but the visits were curtailed due to the delay.
Afterwards Hazan tweeted proudly of the confrontation, and continued with his threats.
“As promised, I boarded, without fear, a bus of Hamas members who came to visit the scum they call family at Nafha,” he wrote. “In the stormy meeting I said to them that terrorists should be underground. And no, I didn’t mean in [attack] tunnels.”
He vowed that he would advance a law to revoke family visits and “fight to remove the terrorists’ rights until our brothers are returned to Israel.”
Hamas has been holding the bodies of two IDF soldiers, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, since the two were killed in the Gaza Strip during 2014’s Operation Protective Edge. The terror group is also believed to be holding two Israeli citizens — Avraham Abera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed — who are said to have entered the Gaza Strip of their own accord.
One mother on the bus was interviewed by Israel Hayom, saying she had to get up at 3 a.m. and travel for six hours to visit her son. “Enough wars,” she said. “We don’t want to live with war.”
Nafha prison holds Palestinians charged with national security crimes.
Hamas later held a “solidarity rally” for the families returning to Gaza.
“The occupation bullies the families of the prisoners. This requires humanitarian and human rights organizations to take a stand,” a spokesman for the terror group said. “This behavior proves that the Israeli occupation has no humane feeling.”
Red Cross spokesperson Suhair Zakkout slammed Hazan’s actions.
“The ICRC takes very seriously what happened today during the visit of Palestinian families to their relatives detained in Israel. Families have the right to visit their loved ones in a dignified manner,” she said.
“It is the responsibility of the competent authorities to ensure that the visits take place safely and without interference. The ICRC, as a humanitarian organization, remains committed to facilitating contacts between detained persons and their families,” Zakkout added.
The Red Cross facilitates family visits for Palestinians in Israeli jails.