‘Branches of Hamas’ – Knesset Deputy Attacks Anti-Government Protesters in Israel

The Israeli parliament (Knesset). (Photo: By U.S. Embassy Jerusalem - DAZ_0762PS, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=131480378)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

“There are a few branches of Hamas — the fighting branch of wicked terrorists who murder children, and the branch of the protests.”

Tens of thousands of protesters gathered in the streets near the Israeli parliament (Knesset) in Jerusalem late on Monday with one politician calling them a “branch” of the Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas.

Carrying Israeli flags and photos of captives held in Gaza, the protesters demanded early elections and a prisoner swap with Hamas.

Some signs depicted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a red X and the text Evil Demon in Hebrew and English, reported the Anadolu news agency.  Protesters chanted slogans such as“Bring down the deceptive government,” “Elections now,” “Traitors” and “Shame.”

Monday’s demonstration was part of the Week of Resistance activities organized by the Brothers of Arms, a group of former Israeli soldiers.

The protests, which began on the previous Saturday and are scheduled to continue until Thursday, were being staged amid political tensions in Israel.

Protests ‘Hindering Efforts’

On Tuesday, the Knesset’s deputy speaker charged that anti-government protesters were a “branch” of Hamas, the Times of Israel reported.

“There are a few branches of Hamas — the fighting branch of wicked terrorists who murder children, and the branch of the protests,” Likud MK Nissim Vaturi reportedly said in an interview with the ultra-Orthodox Kol Barama radio station.

The paper said that Vaturi’s comments came in response to a question about violent clashes between police and protesters on Monday evening.

Nine demonstrators were arrested and at least three were hospitalized, according to the paper. Police were accused of using excessive force, including a water canon against protesters.

When asked whether the protests were “hindering efforts” to secure the release of captives, Vaturi responded, “of course.’ Prompted to give specifics, however, he reiterated his view that “the protests are strengthening Hamas,” said the report.


Following his comments, National Unity chairman Benny Gantz called on Netanyahu to remove Vaturi from his position as deputy speaker

“The deputy speaker of the Knesset proved again this morning that he has no understanding or respect for democracy,” Gantz wrote on X, and described his statements as “reprehensible”.  “

“I call on the prime minister to remove him from his position, and to replace him with a dignified figure who will respect the State of Israel and the legislature,” he insisted, adding that “Failure to remove is consent.”

Opposition Leader Yair Lapid also slammed Vaturi and called for his removal.


“The protesters are Israel Defense Forces soldiers and officers, they are the Israeli economy, they are teachers and doctors, they are the embodiment of Zionism,” Lapid wrote on X.

“Nissim Vaturi, on the other hand, is a man full of hatred whose inflammatory words are being used by Israel’s enemies in a lawsuit in The Hague. Likud should have fired him this morning from the position of deputy speaker of the Knesset,” he said.

There was no official comment from the government, Times of Israel reported.

‘Out of Context’

Following the backlash, Vaturi then claimed on X “My words were taken out of context!” and that “The horrible actions of the Nazi Hamas do not deserve to be compared to any protest or actions of one political party or another.”

He then later apologized for his statements, said the paper, with him claiming that when he heard them on the radio “I was horrified… I meant something else entirely and that’s what came out. I’m sorry for that. I don’t think it’s fitting at all to compare anyone to Hamas or its activities.”

The left-leaning Darkenu civil society organization meanwhile filed a police complaint following Vaturi’s comments, the paper said, citing the Walla news site.

“Vaturi should leave the Knesset,” Darkenu reportedly said. “We expect an unequivocal condemnation from the prime minister for these statements.”

In mid-November, Vaturi was temporarily banned from Facebook after he wrote “burn Gaza now” in a social media post, the report said. He was also sanctioned by the Knesset’s Ethics Committee the following week “for falsely accusing two Arab Israeli MKs of supporting Hamas.”

(PC, Anadolu)

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