MK later issues apology for minimizing 'horrifying massacre'

Ra’am party chief calls on MK to resign for claiming Hamas ‘didn’t slaughter babies’

MK Iman Khatib-Yasin says IDF footage did not show rape of women, but admits she did not view it; Mansour Abbas says there is ‘no place in party’ for minimizing Hamas atrocities

Ra’am MK Iman Khatib-Yasin, in an interview with the Knesset Channel, November 5, 2023. (screenshot)
Ra’am MK Iman Khatib-Yasin, in an interview with the Knesset Channel, November 5, 2023. (screenshot)

MK Mansour Abbas, the leader of the Islamist Ra’am party, demanded on Sunday that party MK Iman Khatib-Yasin resign immediately, following remarks she made earlier in the day casting doubt on some elements of the October 7 massacre by Hamas.

In an interview with the Knesset Channel on Sunday, Khatib-Yasin argued that the videos circulated by the IDF of the atrocities committed by Hamas did not show “rape of women” nor “slaughtering of babies.”

“They didn’t slaughter babies and they didn’t rape women, at least not in the footage,” she said in the interview. “If it happened, it’s shameful… If it had happened,” it would have been included, she suggested.

In response, Abbas said he “was shocked” by her remarks, adding that “there is and will be no space in our ranks for anyone who denies or minimizes the severity of the actions which negate our values and also the religion of Islam.”

Late Sunday evening, Khatib-Yassin issued an apology for the comments she made during the interview: “I made a mistake, I am sorry and I apologize,” she said in a statement. “I had no intention to minimize or deny the horrifying massacre of October 7 and the terrible acts against women, babies, or the elderly who were killed in the south.”

Khatib-Yassin’s original comments related to a compilation of raw footage documenting Hamas’s grisly October 7 rampage through the western Negev, which was screened last week for Knesset members, and last month for groups of foreign journalists. The 43-minute-long video was produced by the IDF Spokesperson’s Office and shows uncensored, difficult-to-watch videos, many taken from terrorists’ bodycams during their murderous rampage.

Ra’am party head MK Mansour Abbas leads a faction meeting at the Knesset, October 16, 2023. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

The Ra’am MK noted, however, that she did not personally see the footage, as watching it would “only cause more pain,” but said that several members of her party did so, and later discussed what they had seen.

The footage was aired in a closed-door screening where recording and cellphones were not allowed. More than 50 MKs were in attendance, and some broke down in tears, including Ra’am head Abbas, the Maariv news outlet reported. “That was difficult, I can’t speak,” Abbas told journalists as he left the screening last week.

Khatib-Yassin said Sunday that what happened on October 7 “even without this, was difficult, was horrible, without even saying that women were raped… What happened was inhumane — I’m a religious Muslim woman, and this goes against Islam — even in a state of war.”

But, she said, “we can’t ignore everything that came before, or what came after,” though adding quickly that “nothing justifies” the Hamas atrocities.

Khatib-Yassin was elected to the Knesset in 2020, becoming the first woman on the United Arab List, and the first hijab-wearing Knesset lawmaker in Israel’s history.

Abbas, the head of Ra’am, has been walking a careful line in Hebrew media since war erupted, denouncing both Hamas’s kidnapping of mainly civilian hostages from Israel and violence harming Palestinian citizens, without touching on the war’s stated goal: toppling the Hamas terror group’s rule over Gaza.

The massacre saw some 3,000 terrorists burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea, killing some 1,400 people and seizing over 240 hostages, including babies and octogenarians, under the cover of a deluge of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities. The vast majority of those killed as gunmen seized border communities were civilians. Entire families were executed in their homes, and over 260 people were slaughtered at an outdoor festival, many amid horrific acts of brutality by the terrorists.

Carrie Keller-Lynn contributed to this report.

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