Israeli-Arab lawmaker Hanin Zoabi detained at Haifa protest

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli-Arab lawmaker Hanin Zoabi was detained at a demonstration in Haifa against Israel’s Gaza operation.

Zoabi and lawmaker Jamal Zahalka, both of the Balad party, were handcuffed on Friday night during the demonstration, which reportedly became violent. They were released later due to their immunity as lawmakers, but both may still be charged with attacking police officers, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Fellow lawmakers have called for Zoabi’s removal from the Knesset. The parliament’s Ethics Committee censured Zoabi for participating in the May 2010 flotilla on the Mavi Marmara, the ship on which nine Turkish passengers were killed in clashes with Israeli commandos. Previous statements have spurred accusations of incitement against Israel and its military.

Zoabi in an interview with Al Jazeera television news called on Hamas to continue attacking Israel. She also reportedly said that Israel’s home front cannot stand a long conflict.

A Hamas spokesman reportedly called Zoabi a “Palestinian patriot worthy of the respect of our people.”

Avigdor Liberman, head of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, said he would use Zoabi’s statements in an effort to appeal to the Central Elections Committee to prevent her from being allowed to run in the next elections. Israel’s Supreme Court overturned such an order before the last elections, allowing Zoabi to become part of the current Knesset.

On Saturday night, thousands of Israeli Arabs protested in northern Israeli towns against the Gaza operation, including another rally in Haifa. It turned violent when Jewish right-wing activists reportedly held a counterdemonstration and attacked pro-Palestinian demonstrators waving Palestinian flags and chanting slogans welcoming rocket fire on Tel Aviv.

 

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