Labor MK to Rothman: 'I don't know what your heart is made of'

‘Shame!’: Knesset ushers drag brother of hostage out of meeting for interrupting

Committee chair Rothman, who ordered Danny Elgarat’s removal, says he was preventing other relatives of hostages from speaking out against deal currently on table

Danny Elgarat, whose brother Itzik Elgarat is held hostage in Gaza, is dragged out of a Knesset committee meeting on July 8, 2024 (Screen grab via Kan used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Danny Elgarat, whose brother Itzik Elgarat is held hostage in Gaza, is dragged out of a Knesset committee meeting on July 8, 2024 (Screen grab via Kan used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Knesset guards on Monday forcibly dragged the brother of a Hamas hostage out of a parliamentary committee meeting after he interrupted the brother of another abductee speaking out against the latest hostage agreement being negotiated between Israel and the terror group.

After the incident, both Constitution, Law and Justice Committee chairman Simcha Rothman — who ordered Danny Elgarat’s removal from the session — and the Knesset guard came under fire for showing a lack of sensitivity in dealing with a gutted relative of one of the 120 remaining hostages in Gaza.

Elgarat, whose brother Itzik was abducted from his safe room in Kibbutz Nir Oz on October 7, was thrown out of the Monday hearing after he repeatedly interrupted Boaz Miran as the latter warned the Knesset committee against the “reckless” deal currently under discussion. Miran’s brother Omri was taken captive on October 7 by Hamas terrorists from Kibbutz Nahal Oz.

Elgarat accused Miran of acting as an arm of the right-wing Tikvah Forum on Rothman’s behalf. Tikvah Forum activists — who support overwhelming military pressure, not negotiations, to free hostages — were present at the committee meeting.

After Rothman ordered Elgarat’s removal, the former refused to move, yelling that he would not comply.

Rothman adjourned the meeting and told the Knesset guard to inform him when they finished removing Elgarat from the room.

Elgarat was then dragged out of the committee chamber by a team of ushers. Others present in the room could be heard crying, “Shame!” and “That’s a brother of a hostage!”

He was subsequently photographed receiving medical attention while lying facedown in a Knesset hallway.

When the meeting resumed, Labor MK Naama Lazimi berated Rothman for his conduct.

“I don’t know what your heart is made of. You neglected [the Israelis who were taken hostage on October 7]. You continue to neglect the hostages, and now their families have turned into people whom you violently kick out of meetings. You’ve desecrated this building,” an emotional Lazimi shouted, adding that Elgarat was accusing the Knesset guard of dislocating his shoulder.

The Ynet news site later reported that several people affiliated with the Tikvah Forum interrupted the proceedings but were not removed by Rothman, who is seen as an ideological ally.

Responding to the criticism, the Religious Zionism lawmaker’s office issued a statement noting that he had “announced two breaks in the discussion during which Elgarat called the Knesset ushers ‘Rottweilers’ and repeatedly refused to leave.”

Danny Elgarat, brother of hostage Itzik Elgarat, speaking February 10, 2024, at Tel Aviv Hostages Square. (Courtesy, Hostages and Missing Families Forum)

The statement added that Elgarat’s interruptions were preventing the family members of other hostages from speaking, arguing that they had just as much of a right to voice their opinion.

The relatives of hostages have frequently confronted lawmakers in Knesset committees, while also approaching them in hallways and in public over what they say is a lack of efforts to free their loved ones.

The physical nature with which Elgarat was expelled from Monday’s meeting appeared to represent an escalation in the way the Knesset guard responds to such interruptions. The conduct of the Knesset ushers appeared to mirror that of police officers who have similarly manhandled a number of abductees’ relatives as crackdowns on protests calling for a hostage deal have become increasingly violent in recent weeks.

File: MK Simcha Rothman, head of the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, leads a meeting in the Knesset on January 8, 2024. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Hostage talks appeared to progress last week after Hamas submitted an updated proposal that was closer to the one Israel had issued in May. Israeli negotiators are meeting this week with mediators in Doha and Cairo in order to try and bridge the gaps.

An Israeli-drafted outline for a hostage deal and truce in Gaza that US President Joe Biden presented at the end of May proposed a phased process that would include a “full and complete” six-week ceasefire and the release of a number of hostages, including women, the elderly, and the wounded, in exchange for the release of hundreds of Palestinian security prisoners.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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