Israeli Arab lawmaker under fire for roll in flotilla raid

Thursday, August 12, 2010 |  Israel Today Staff

Amidst internal Israeli and UN probes into the deadly May 31 interception of a Gaza aid flotilla, Israeli lawmakers are calling for a side investigation into the actions of one of their own during the violent high-seas confrontation.

Israeli Arab MK Hanin Zoabi of the opposition Balad Party was aboard the Mavi Marmara, the largest of the flotilla's ships, when a contingent of its passengers attacked and abducted members of the Israeli boarding party sent to stop it from reaching Gaza.

Originally, Zoabi claimed that while she supported the flotilla's mission to break the Gaza maritime blockade, she had no idea the passengers of the ship she was on intended to attack Israeli soldiers, or that they were even armed.

However, video clips released by the IDF to Israel's Channel 2 this week tell a different story.

In one clip, Zoabi is shown mingling with other ship passengers armed with knives and large metal pipes. Zoabi tried to claim that she believed the pipes were some kind of standard sailing equipment.

In another clip, Zoabi is seen arguing with an Israeli commando who was trying to evacuate wounded passengers for medical treatment. Zoabi claimed that she had aided the evacuation of wounded, but in the video is shown trying to prevent the soldiers taking a patient in unstable condition to an Israeli hospital.

The Knesset has already revoked many of Zoabi's parliamentary privileges, such as the right to carry a diplomatic passport, and now Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin is calling for a full investigation into her actions.

Zoabi responded by calling the release of the videos showing her inappropriate behavior a "distraction" from the investigations into the army's handling of the flotilla incident.

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