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.
The Balad party lawmaker 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.
Israeli opposition leader Issac Herzog of the Labor party 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 Arabs.
“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 in a letter to Zoabi.
Several lawmakers, many from the Likud party, called for Zoabi’s dismissal from the Knesset.
Hamas, the Gaza-based terrorist organization that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blames for the abduction, praised Zoabi for her statements. Hamas has denied it kidnapped the teens but praised the abduction.
“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.
Balad also supported Zoabi and blamed the Israeli government for the kidnapping.