Police arrested three men Tuesday for threatening their relative, an Arab Israeli teen who, in a strikingly pro-Israel video posted online, wraps himself in an Israeli flag and expresses solidarity with three kidnapped Israeli youths.
In the video, uploaded to YouTube earlier this week, 17-year-old Mohammad Zoabi of Nazareth 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.
Another relative, the controversial MK Hanin Zoabi (Balad), distanced herself from his comments Tuesday and said that, contrary to his assertion, the kidnappers were “not terrorists.”
“Three members of a Nazareth family were arrested on suspicion of threatening to harm a son from the family, 17, after he showed solidarity for the three kidnapped youths in a movie uploaded to a social network,” the police said in a statement.
The three who were arrested range in age from 40 to 60, and the youth’s mother was also called in for questioning, the Ynet news site reported. 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, Army Radio reported.
Zoabi is a member of an extended clan in Nazareth. Hanin Zoabi on Tuesday said Mohammad Zoabi was a “stupid and sad” case who has a “distorted identity.”
In Mohammad Zoabi’s latest video — he has posted before to express his Zionist sentiments — he stated, speaking in English, Hebrew and Arabic: “To those terrorists who have kidnapped our kids, bring them back. And you better bring them back now. To Bibi, our prime minister and his government, wake up and stop cooperating with terrorists. The Palestinian Authority is the biggest terrorist.
“Yesterday, or two days ago, three Israeli kids were kidnapped,” he continued. “Tomorrow it could be me, you, or any other Israeli. Our enemies don’t separate between Arabs or Jews living in Israel. For them we are all one; for them we are all Israelis. And you know what, I am proud about that, I am an Israeli and I will remain an Israeli. And again, you better bring them back. Israel is here to exist as a Jewish and as a democratic country.”
Zoabi then displayed an Israeli flag and said “Am Yisrael Chai,” the common Hebrew phrase meaning “The Jewish nation lives.”
The video has garnered thousands of responses online, many of them extremely negative, offensive and threatening. The video was also posted by pro-Israeli sites, where it has been heavily praised.
Eyal Yifrach, 19, Naftali Frankel, 16, and Gil-ad Shaar, 16, were kidnapped late Thursday night south of Jerusalem. They were last seen at a hitchhiking post in the Etzion bloc at around 10 p.m.. The Israeli government has pointed the finger at Hamas and said that it holds the Palestinian Authority responsible for their well-being.
Since the kidnapping Israel has been conducting a massive manhunt in the West Bank and has arrested some 200 Palestinians, including dozens of senior Hamas members.
Speaking to Radio Tel Aviv on Tuesday morning, Hanin Zoabi, the MK, said that those who kidnapped the three Israelis were “not terrorists,” but rather acted because they didn’t see any other way to change their situation.
Her remarks were condemned by Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, who wrote on Facebook: “Not only are the kidnappers terrorists, Hanin Zoabi is also a terrorist. The judgment on the kidnappers and on Zoabi, who encourages them, should be the same.”