A right-wing member of the Israeli Knesset (parliament) has been filmed shouting and verbally abusing the Palestinian families who were on their way to visit their loved ones in Israel’s custody, sparking widespread condemnations.
Flanked by Israeli police and camera crews, Oren Hazan boarded a bus carrying the families of the prisoners from the Gaza Strip who were about to enter Nafha Prison in southern occupied territories.
“We will kick you out of here,” he told the bus occupants. “Those scumbags, those garbage, dogs that sit in our prisons that you call family, they will never see daylight. And as long as I’m a member in this Knesset, I will do the best I can to change the law so you cannot visit here.”
The Israeli lawmaker shouted at one prisoner’s mother calling her son an “insect.”
When one of the mothers tried to respond to Hazan’s curses, he replied, “shut up” in Arabic.
Umm Abed al-Rahman, one of the mothers on the bus, said Hazan “doesn’t deserve to be a Knesset member,” describing him as “an ignorant man.”
Reactions pour in
The video went viral over the Internet, prompting angry reactions from human rights groups and Palestinian officials.
The Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas, condemned the incident as an instance of “Zionist aggression.”
Hamas official Fathi Hammad stressed that the Israeli lawmaker’s assault proved “the Zionists are not democratic and not civilized.”
He also highlighted “the pride of the Palestinian people in their prisoners, who spent the years of their lives in the occupation’s prisons, in the name of Palestine’s freedom.”
Additionally, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)’s spokeswoman in Gaza, Suheir Zaqout, condemned the incident and said Palestinian families have the right to visit their sons in Israeli prisons without any interference.
“The ICRC looks at the incident today very seriously and we are in touch with the related authorities (Israel),” she noted.
Furthermore, Issa Qaraqe, the head of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs, warned that Hazan’s behavior could cause a revolt in Israeli prisons, calling on the ICRC to report it to the United Nations to take the necessary legal and humanitarian measures.
“Such a crime should not by without response because it would encourage other fanatics to do similar hate acts,” he said. “If such acts are repeated, it could provoke a real revolt in all the prisons and the cost will be very high.”
Meanwhile, Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor described Hazan’s move as a “degrading act,” which was “extremely disrespectful.”
“Posting the video on social media outlets and boasting about deliberately insulting, humiliating and intimidating Palestinian civilians is nothing short of incitement,” the rights organization said in a statement.
Military Court Watch says two thirds of the 70 Palestinian minor prisoners aged between 12 and 17 have reported slaps, kicks, pinches and blows at Israeli detention.
Almost 6,280 Palestinians are currently being held in Israeli jails, 465 of them under the controversial administrative detention, according to figures provided by the Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer.
Palestinian detainees have continuously resorted to open-ended hunger strikes to voice their outrage at the administrative detention, which is a form of imprisonment without trial or charge that allows Israel to incarcerate Palestinians for up to six months.
Palestinian prisoners complain that they have been subjected to assault and torture at Israeli prisons.
Rights group Military Court Watch said last week that most of the Palestinian minors arrested in 2017 have testified that they were subjected to violence and physical abuse by Israeli forces while in custody.