“Ahed Tamimi is not just one, she is a whole generation... We are not waiting for the criminal [Israel] to understand,” Zoabi said.
“We need to force it to leave through a struggle. Only a mass struggle will liberate Ahed and the Palestinian people.”
Zoabi made the comments in response to an announcement on Wednesday that Tamimi, a Palestinian teenager whose assault on IDF soldiers stationed outside her home can be seen in a viral online video, reached a plea deal, by which she will serve a total of eight months in prison.
The video sparked emotions for and against Tamimi. Some Israelis expressed pride that the soldiers stood and took the blows and didn’t respond, while others said it made the army look weak. Meanwhile, Tamimi became a symbol for pro-Palestinian groups around the world, with the hashtag #NoWayToTreatAChild trending on social media after her arrest.
The Joint List MK said it is a success for the “resistance” that “Zionism, the last occupier in the world,” is afraid of a child, meaning Tamimi.
According to Zoabi, Tamimi is “being punished not because she committed a crime or hurt anyone, but because she did the right thing, and said to soldiers who were persecuting children: ‘I am not afraid of you.’ And she is a brave teen, and all of the occupier’s courts’ actions only make her courage greater.”
IDF had no right to be in the Tamimis’ yard, Zoabi added, saying: “We need to chase them out until the final stage, their total withdrawal.”
Last week, the Knesset Ethics Committee suspended Zoabi from the Knesset for a week for calling IDF soldiers “murderers,” which the panel said violates MKs’ vow to try to increase public trust in the Knesset.
In 2014 she was suspended for six months, after she made statements justifying the kidnapping of three Israeli teens who were found to be murdered by Palestinians, and supported Hamas rocket attacks on Israel during Operation Protective Edge.
During the operation, she traveled to Qatar, which was funding Hamas, and met with former Balad chairman Azmi Bishara, who fled Israel while he was being investigated for spying for Hezbollah during the Second Lebanon War.
In 2011, she was suspended from the Knesset for two months, after she physically attacked an usher. The previous year, she participated in the infamous 2010 Gaza flotilla, which was stopped by Israel Navy commandos.
Other MKs in the Joint List also voiced support for Tamimi, but stopped short of calling for a “struggle.”
Joint List MK Aida Touma-Sliman compared Tamimi’s verdict to that of Elor Azaria, the IDF soldier convicted of manslaughter for killing an already-subdued Palestinian terrorist, and was this week granted a third off his sentence by the Parole Board. He will serve only nine months out of a 14-month sentence.
Touma-Sliman said the similar lengths of their sentences “proves how problematic and cruel military rule over another nation is, and what the ramifications of such rule is.
“Ahed did what any other person with a conscience would do,” she argued. “The slap she gave the soldier is a slap to all of Israeli society and a call to wake up. There is no enlightened occupation. We must wake up and free both nations from this system of oppression. A 17-year-old girl belongs in school and not behind bars.”