Six years after the stormy plenary debate on the Gaza flotilla, it happened again: MK Hanin Zoabi (Joint List) caused an uproar on the Knesset floor Wednesday when she referred to the IDF soldiers who took part in the May 2010 raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla “murderers.”
Nine Turkish nationals, including one with American citizenship, were killed in clashes that erupted when IDF commandos raided the Mavi Marmara, the final ship in the flotilla from Turkey that tried to break the Israeli blockade on Gaza. Zoabi participated in the flotilla and was aboard the vessel when it was intercepted.
During Wednesday`s debate on the reconciliation agreement with Turkey, under which Israel agreed to compensate the families of those who were killed during the raid, Zoabi said: ”I stood here six years ago, some of you remember the hatred and hostility toward me, and look where we got to. Apologies to the families of those who were called terrorists. The nine that were murdered, it turns out that their families need to be compensated. I demand an apology to all the political activists who were on the Marmara and an apology to MK Hanin Zoabi, who you`ve incited against for six years. I demand compensation and I will donate it to the next flotilla. As long as there`s a siege, more flotillas need to be organized.”
(MK Hanin Zoabi, archive photo)
She also said the reconciliation deal is an admission of guilt by Israel with regards to the flotilla incident.
Her comments infuriated a number of lawmakers, who approached the podium and demanded that Zoabi be removed. Several MKs demanded that she apologize for calling the IDF soldiers ”murderers,” and Zoabi responded by saying “The IDF soldiers who murdered need to apologize, you need to apologize.” At this point, Deputy Knesset Speaker MK Hamad Amar (Yisrael Beitenu) ejected Zoabi from the plenum.
During the commotion, Jewish and Arab MKs nearly came to blows. MKs Oren Hazan (Likud), Mickey Levy (Yesh Atid) and Jamal Zahalka (Joint List) were ejected from the plenum.
Commenting on the incident, MK Michael Oren (Kulanu) said, ”An MK calls IDF soldiers murderers, and she still gets a salary from the Knesset. Does anyone doubt that the suspension bill is necessary?” Oren was referring to legislation that would allow the Knesset to suspend lawmakers who incite, support terrorism, or otherwise violate the legal standards from running for a seat in the Knesset.