Second Arab Israeli menaced for supporting abducted teens

In repeat of incident earlier this week, teenager posts message backing kidnapped students, receives death threats

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

Yihye Zakaria Mahameed (photo credit: Ynet screenshot)
Yihye Zakaria Mahameed (photo credit: Ynet screenshot)

Several days after an Arab Israeli teen ignited a firestorm by making a video supporting tough Israeli measures to gain the release of three abducted Israelis, a second Arab Israeli teen’s life was threatened after he posted a picture in support of the three.

Yihye Zakaria Mahameed, a 17-year-old resident of Umm al-Fahm, was subjected to fierce backlash and death threats from his peers after uploading a photo to Facebook of himself holding an Israeli flag and a “Bring Back Our Boys” sign.

The picture was meant as a show of solidarity with Naftali Frankel, 16, Gil-ad Shaar, 16 and Eyal Yifrach, 19, who were last seen in the West Bank on Thursday.

“I am opposed to the kidnapping and there are many Arab Israeli residents who support the State of Israel and the peace process,” he told the Ynet website.

Mahameed turned to police after receiving comments on his thread such as “traitor,” “we want to murder you,” and “you cannot stay alive.”

He told the news site that he was afraid to walk to school. “I’m even afraid to leave my house,” he said. “I call for the return of the kidnapped teens. This [the kidnapping] won’t bring peace, but only destroys the process. The Arab society must understand us and respect our opinion.”

The teenager’s sister also received intimidating messages on her phone and said she too was fearful of going to school.

The story closely mirrored that of Mohammad Zoabi, who was forced into police protection after posting a video calling on Israel to go after Hamas for the kidnapping.

Mahameed said he supported Zoabi’s video. “The teenager who spread the video also didn’t want to hurt anyone, it was his opinion, and no one should pounce on him like he did something terrible.”

Zoabi is the nephew of Balad MK Hanin Zoabi, who said Tuesday that the kidnappers were not terrorists, remarks that Mahameed said only “damaged relations between Arabs and Jews.”

“We want representatives in the Knesset who will speak professionally and not destructively,” he said. “I call on Zoabi to state that she only represents herself, and does not reflect the Arab society in Israel.”

Mohammad Zoabi (screen capture: YouTube)
Mohammad Zoabi (screen capture: YouTube)

Police arrested three relatives of Mohammad Zoabi Tuesday for threatening him after he called for the release of the three teens, affirmed his own identity as an Israeli, and urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stop negotiating with Palestinian terrorists. Those arrested were his father, an uncle and a grandfather, who are suspected of planning to take him to Jenin in the West Bank and to harm him.

Due to the nature of the threats against him, police and the Ministry of Education decided to place a security detail on Zoabi and around his high school in Netanya, Army Radio reported.

Zoabi’s mother backed her son’s statements, and said that in the wake of the incident, her landlord has requested that the family vacate their Nazareth apartment.

“The landlord asked me to leave the apartment, because he is afraid they will shoot at the house,” she said.

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