Israel’s parliament sank into bedlam yesterday as the Joint List’s Hanin Zoabi addressed the recent rapprochement between Israel and Turkey over the flotilla raid and demanded an apology for a 2010 session in Knesset where Zoabi was shouted down as a “terrorist” for her comments on the deadly attack. This time, members of government once again jumped out of their seats, with more than a dozen rushing towards Zoabi, yelling “terrorist”– to which she responded, “hit me!”
An official in the Zoabi’s faction described the scene as the most volatile inside of the Knesset halls in recent memory.
“Everyone who works there was really shook up, they really thought there would be a riot,” said the official, adding “the chaos in the end involved everyone.”
A video of the hearing shows security intervening, yet unable to control the room. Several members of Knesset are recorded approaching Zoabi, shouting “filth” and “terrorist.”
Zoabi was on stage during the bulk of the upheaval. She was giving an address in a plenary hearing on the recent agreement between Israel and Turkey. The deal ended tense relations, which began in 2010 after Israeli commandos killed 10 Turkish citizens aboard an aid convoy headed to Gaza, in an operation to commandeer the ships (Israel controls maritime entry into the Strip, and stated at the time the boats were attempting illegal entry).
“Israel did not disengage from Gaza. Israel cut off Gaza from the world and life,” said Zoabi today, according to a copy of her speech released by her party. Zoabi then honed in on her peers, demanding they apologize for a 2010 cantankerous session in Knesset where Zoabi was shouted down as a “terrorist” for her comments on the deadly raid.
Zoabi was one of the passengers aboard the aid vessels.
While Zoabi’s speech began with a calm audience, until Oren Hazan, a parliamentarian from the Prime Minister’s Likud party, interrupted.
“You’re the nation’s [biggest] inciter,” Hazan said--as quoted by Arutz Sheva–continuing “you’re the most dangerous. You support terror, you hypocrite. Go to Gaza”
“I want an apology, and I want compensation, and I will contribute it to the children of Gaza, and the next flotillas,” Zoabi said.
“Your friends are murderers; you’re complicit in terrorism. You’ve got some nerve. Time’s up. You don’t use that podium to speak against IDF soldiers,” Hazan added, to which Zoabi replied, “You committed murder! Murderers! Shut up!” reported Israel’s Ynet News.
Rapidly other politicians joined, some to Zoabi’s defense.
Zoabi and Aliza Lavie from the Yesh Atid faction exchanged words over a cacophony of insults, with Zoabi baiting, “Come and hit me, Aliza; come and hit me,” reported Ynet News.
At least four members of Knesset were escorted out of the room.
Following the outbursts, several current and former members of government not present for the disarray weighed in over social media. Former head of Israel’s intelligence service Avi Dichter said of Zoabi over social media, “She’s not even worthy of being a lion’s food in a circus”:
יש הטוענים שחנין זועבי עושה מהכנסת קרקס. למען האמת, היא אפילו לא ראויה להיות מזון לאריות בקרקס.
— Avi Dichter (@avidichter) June 29, 2016
Knesset member Ofir Akunis told YNet News, “Hanin Zoabi is a terrorist—a terrorist,” adding, “We are proud of our soldiers. We salute our soldiers. We are proud of the force that gained control of the Marmara and prevented the breach of the blockade on Gaza; and with the agreement [with Turkey], the blockade on Gaza will continue.”
The official from the Zoabi’s Joint List told Mondoweiss, “the easiest way to get some love from your right-wing base is to stage a fight with an Arab MK.”
A similar outburst in Knesset took place in 2010 following the Israeli raid of the flotilla headed towards Gaza. Zoabi was again speaking on stage when the disruption ensued. At that time she called for an international investigation into Israel’s shootings of the Turkish nationals. While talking, her peers accused her of being a “terrorist” and harboring knives.
Referring to that incident while speaking this morning, Zoabi said Israel’s payout to Turkey was vindicated the statements she made six years ago to Knesset.
“The real criminals are those who turned the Gaza Strip into a prison: a prison where every day there is no stable electricity, and no clean water,” she said today.