Kidnappers not terrorists, Zoabi reiterates

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Arab-Israeli lawmaker Hanin Zoabi continued to assert that the kidnappers of three Israeli teenagers are not terrorists, amid calls for her dismissal from the Knesset.

“I don’t agree with the kidnapping, but I can’t say it was an act of terror,” Zoabi told Army Radio Wednesday.

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She said that if the kidnappers killed the teens then it could be considered terror.

“Murder is terrorism,” she said. “It is illegitimate and should never be repeated, but the State of Israel is the one that led us to this event.”

Zoabi said in the interview that she destroyed her cell phone and went into hiding after her phone number and other personal information was distributed via social media.

Opposition leader Issac Herzog called on Zoabi to apologize for her remarks, and said they were more harmful than price tag attacks in tearing down relations between Jews and Arab.

“As the search for the boys reached a climax, you chose to make obscene statements which showed support for the act of kidnapping,” he wrote Thursday in a letter to Zoabi.

Several lawmakers, many from the Likud party, called for Zoabi’s dismissal from the Knesset.

Hamas praised Zoabi for her statements. “We in Hamas bless Hanin Zoabi for standing her ground and we hope that the leadership of the Palestinian Authority will follow her example in supporting the homeland, citizens, and the Palestinian problem rather than the disappearance of soldiers, or boasting about security coordination” with Israel, said a Hamas spokesman according to the Times of Israel.

Zoabi’s Balad Party also supported the lawmaker and blamed Israel for the kidnapping.

“Balad and MK Hanin Zoabi see the Israeli government as responsible for the continuing violence and bloodshed. The occupation is the source of violence, and the way to prevent violence is to end the occupation and to take a path of serious dialogue on the basis of UN resolutions,” read a statement issued by the party.

The statement said that the party hopes “that the issue of the abduction ends peacefully, and the way to do so is through dialogue and sending a message of willingness to release prisoners on hunger strike from administrative detention without trial. We condemn the re-conquest of the Hebron area and the arbitrary arrests.”