Police recommend criminal investigation of MK Zoabi

Fellow legislators had urged suspension of contentious Arab lawmaker for saying kidnappers of Israeli teens aren’t terrorists

Balad MK Hanin Zoabi (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Balad MK Hanin Zoabi (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The police decided Sunday to recommend that a criminal investigation be opened against Balad MK Hanin Zoabi over remarks she made about the kidnapping of three Israeli teens.

Zoabi said last Tuesday on Tel Aviv Radio that the kidnappers “are not terrorists; they are people who do not see any way of changing their situation and they have to resort to these measures until Israel sobers up a bit, until the citizens of Israel and the public sober up and relate to the suffering of others.”

Since the June 12 kidnapping of Eyal Yifrach, 19, Naftali Fraenkel, 16, and Gil-ad Shaar, 16, including two on Sunday, the IDF has been conducting a sweeping operation in the West Bank that has resulted in the arrest of over 350 Palestinians. In addition, four Palestinians have been killed in clashes.

Israeli politicians from the right to the soft left slammed Zoabi, some calling for her to be removed from her post and prosecuted. Coalition Chairman Yariv Levin (Likud) asked Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to open an investigation into Zoabi, charging that her comments constituted incitement.

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein (photo credit: Gideon Markowicz/Flash90)
Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein (photo credit: Gideon Markowicz/Flash90)

The police subsequently opened up an initial probe and reported their findings to the head of police investigations department, the Hebrew news site Ynet reported. At the end of a meeting on Sunday, the department decided to recommend a criminal investigation, and Weinstein is reportedly expected to accept the recommendation and sanction an official probe.

Four days after her initial comments, Zoabi also said in an interview on Channel 2 that she wasn’t sure the kidnapping had taken place at all, claimed Israel wasn’t so much hunting for the trio as seeking to kill Palestinians, and accused the Palestinian Authority of treason in cooperating with Israel in the operation to find the Israeli youths. She also said the Israeli operation to find the teens was terrorism.

“Three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped, but the two Palestinian kids who were killed [on Friday] were not even mentioned [in your broadcast]? The blood of Jews is more precious than the blood of Palestinians?” Zoabi said.

“[Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu is not looking for those boys, he’s busy invading the West Bank and killing Palestinians. The main goal of the operation is to destroy Hamas, not to find the boys.”

“The context of this operation is the Israeli occupation and [Israeli] terror,” she went on. But “the only way to end this kidnapping is to release Palestinian prisoners.”

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