MKs Hanin Zoabi (Joint Arab List) and Zehava Galon (Meretz) were removed from the Knesset on Wednesday after a storm that erupted in response to vile allegations made by Zoabi as part of the daily agenda proposals. The Arab MK spoke in response to the rapprochement agreement between Israel and Turkey, but her language was so rude and offensive, MK Oren Hazan (Likud) felt obligated to interrupt her, at which point the rest of the House started to pay attention, and crowded the podium demanding that the offending MK be removed from the plenum. When MK Galon asked the Deputy Speaker, Hamad Amar (Yisrael Beiteinu), why he’s not removing Hazan as well, the Deputy Speaker removed her from the plenum.
MK Zoabi began her statement saying, “I stood here six years ago. Remember the incitement, the hatred and the noise back then? And where have we arrived? An apology and reparations to the families of those who were once called terrorists. They, who confronted the soldiers, were trying to prevent an act of piracy of the Shayetet (Naval special forces) that probably was looking to kidnap and murder.”
At which point Hazan called out, “You’re talking about the soldiers? You should be named Captain Hook. You are a pirate, supporting terrorism, rukhi (Arabic for go away) to Gaza.”
MK Amar, a Druze who served in the IDF from 1982 to 1986 (he also holds a fifth degree black belt in Martial Arts) told the plenum that Zoabi wished to apologize. But when she received the floor she demanded an apology on behalf of “all the political activists who were on the [Turkish boat Mavi] Marmara, and an apology to MK Hanin Zoabi whom you attacked and persecuted for six years. All of you need to apologize, all the MKs in this building.”
Hazan continued to cut her off, calling her, “Traitor, you are the national inciter, go to Gaza.” He then turned to Amar, saying, “There’s a limit to everything, take her off the podium.”
“He who committed the murder must apologize. You need to apologize,” Zoabi persisted. But at that point the plenum had erupted in a storm, with many MKs. crowding the podium and demanding that Zoabi be removed. Finally, Amar ordered her removed saying that she “lied” when she told him she wished to apologize.” Which is when MK Galon stood up to inquire how come Hazan, who also interrupted the proceedings, had not been removed — so she was removed, too. Then MK Mickey Levy (Yesh Atid) was removed for yelling “Traitors” at the Balad party MKs (Balad is one of the four factions in the Joint Arab List).
By now the Knesset resembled one of those eastern European or Asian parliaments, where the members take to fisticuffs when words would no longer do. Hazan was thrown out, several Arab MKs followed, the speaker, who had long since lost all hope of controlling the proceedings just kept on yelling at everyone in his field of vision. It was a brawl, but without actual violence, only the Knesset ushers were busy gently manhandling the MKs so they won’t hurt one another.
Outside the plenum, Zoabi told reporters: “Israel did not disengage from Gaza, Israel disengaged Gaza from the world and from life. I demand an apology, and I want reparations, which I will donate to the children of Gaza, and to the next flotillas.”
The entire afternoon was a kind of Déjà vu: on May 31, 2010, Zoabi participated in the Gaza flotilla, and was on board the Mavi Marmara when violence broke out as Israeli commandos were attacked with metal rods, knives, broken bottles and the kitchen sink as they were trying to board and take over the ship. Zoabi was arrested. At a later news conference, Zoabi called the raid criminal, saying she had witnessed two wounded passengers bleed to death after the Israelis refused to provide medical aid. She also stated, “It was clear from the size of the force that boarded the ship that the purpose was not only to stop this sail, but to cause the largest possible number of fatalities in order to stop such initiatives in the future.”
That was a blatant lie, as could be seen in the videos taken during the event, showing the IDF soldiers coming down a rope from a chopper, to be showered with punches, blows and cuts. There were easier ways to cause fatalities, if that were on the IDF’s mind.
In a speech at the Knesset one day after her release, MK Zoabi called the raid a “pirate military operation” and demanded an international investigation. She also demanded to know why the Israeli government had not released photos and videos it confiscated from passengers that might shed light on why nine passengers were killed and dozens wounded. During her address she also said, “Israel spoke of a provocation, but there was no provocation. Why does the government of Israel oppose an investigation?”
Of course, the videos that were released showed ample provocation and then some.
Zoabi was repeatedly interrupted and shouted down during that initial speech in 2010 by other lawmakers, one of whom shouted “Go to Gaza, traitor!” The chaos reached a peak when MK Anastasia Michaeli (Yisrael Beiteinu) charged the podium in an attempt to prevent Zoabi from continuing.