Oren Hazan sentenced to community service for 2014 assault
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Oren Hazan sentenced to community service for 2014 assault

Controversial former Likud lawmaker declares himself vindicated, but judge lambastes his ‘bullying and law-breaking’ behavior

Then-Likud Knesset member Oren Hazan reacts during a Knesset plenary session, on November 27, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Then-Likud Knesset member Oren Hazan reacts during a Knesset plenary session, on November 27, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Former Likud MK Oren Hazan was sentenced to 100 hours of community service on Monday, as part of a plea bargain to avoid being convicted of assault over a 2014 incident in which he physically and verbally abused a municipal worker in the West Bank city of Ariel.

Hazan was indicted in late 2017 on charges of assaulting a civil servant and a misdemeanor in a public space, during the incident, in which he shouted and cursed at a top city official, grabbed him and shoved him into a railing during a dispute over a debt. According to the indictment, Hazan’s mother had had her bank account frozen for failing to pay property taxes for eight years on a restaurant owned by the family in Ariel. Hazan had gone to the municipality to find the person responsible.

The official tried to get away and enter a conference room, but Hazan followed him, closed the door behind him, and said, “No one is leaving here,” the indictment said. Hazan also allegedly entered the mayor’s office, shouted and cursed, refused to leave, and told him he would “take care of him” and make sure he did not remain in office.

In her ruling, Judge Eliana Danieli described Hazan’s actions as “bullying and law-breaking,” stating that “the defendant did not shy away from attacking [the employee] despite the presence of others.”

Knesset member Oren Hazan sits in a model of the Iron Throne from TV’s ‘Game of Thrones,’ during an exhibition in Tel Aviv, on April 5, 2015 (Tomer Neuberg/ Flash90)

For his part, Hazan portrayed the plea deal as a vindication, citing to the Ynet news site the fact that there had been no conviction after “five years of non-stop pursuit” by prosecutors looking “to bring me down.”

Calling the incident a “fictional story,” he suggested the state prosecutor’s office engage some “soul searching” and “stop pursuing elected officials.”

“Let us do our work and stop terrorizing us,” he said.

This was not Hazan’s first brush with the law. After his election in 2015, Channel 2 reported that the freshman MK had hired prostitutes for his friends and used hard drugs in Bulgaria, where he used to run a casino. In 2016, a Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court threw out a libel lawsuit filed by Hazan against journalist Amit Segal, stating that his report on the matter amounted to “responsible, serious journalism and reflected the reality as it was.”

His one term was filled with scandals and, in January 2018, he was the first Knesset member in the history of the State of Israel to receive a six-month ban on parliamentary activities, as punishment for a series of incidents in which he insulted his fellow lawmakers.

Houses in the Israeli settlement of Ariel, in the central West Bank, on March 25, 2019. (The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP, File)

That did not stop him from employing incendiary rhetoric, however. In November 2018, he called handicapped Meretz lawmaker Ilan Gilon “half a human.” The next month, he declared that opposition lawmaker MK Pnina Tamano-Shata was a “token immigrant” during a Knesset committee meeting.

He has also been accused on more than one occasion of inciting violence. Last October, Zionist Union lawmaker Hilik Bar filed a police complaint against Hazan after he posted a “Wanted: Dead or alive” poster of B’Tselem director Hagai El-Ad. In March, then-Balad party leader Jamal Zahalka called on police to charge Hazan with incitement for an election parody video, in which Hazan shoots Zahalka dead.

In May 2017, Hazan broke protocol by taking a selfie with the US President Donald Trump during the welcoming ceremony at Ben Gurion Airport.

In the Likud primaries ahead of the April election, Hazan was pushed out of a realistic spot. He subsequently split from Likud and formed his own party, which received only 0.06% of the vote in April’s Knesset elections and did not enter the legislature.

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