Anti-Arab Extremist Indicted for Assaulting MK Zoabi

Artemi Kazarov, supporter of Kahanist leader Baruch Marzel, allegedly poured bottle of juice on Zoabi at candidates' forum; spokewoman for Arab Joint List hospitalized with head injuries, Meretz MK elbowed in stomach.

An anti-Arab extremist was indicted on Wednesday for attacking MK Haneen Zoabi at a political convention at the College for Law and Business in Ramat Gan the previous day.

The defendant, Artemi Kazarov, 27, was arrested on Tuesday after behaving wildly and pouring a bottle of juice on Zoabi at a conference on women’s issues. Kazarov is a supporter of Baruch Marzel, long-time leader of the Kahanist movement in Israel and head of the Otzma Yehudit faction on the Yahad election list.

Kazarov, who is also charged with causing a disturbance in a public place, was released on bail on Wednesday but restricted to house arrest.

The prosecution is also expected to indict another extremist who assaulted Joint List spokeswoman Emilie Moatti.

Kazarov and other extremists, who had been called by Marzel to come to the event “to protest the disgrace,” disrupted the convention. According to the indictment, they crowded round the stage and shouted curses and insults at Zoabi, preventing her from speaking.

Marzel’s supporters pushed the participants, then Kazarov and other activists stormed the stage, with Kazarov climbing onto the speakers’ table and pouring a bottle of juice on Zoabi. Security guards evacuated the politicians from the site.

Moatti, who told Israel Radio on Wednesday that one of Marzel’s supporters beat her on the head with a flag pole, was taken to Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv. MK Michal Biran of Zionist Union was also hurt in the brawl when one of the Kahanists rammed his elbow into her stomach.

“The activists on both sides heated things up,” Biran said. “Lieberman’s activists started it, but Marzel’s supporters continued. Zoabi’s supporters didn’t take it lying down either.”

Apart from MKs Zoabi and Biran, participants included MKs Shuli Moalem (Habayit Hayehudi) and Karin Elharar (Yesh Atid), and candidates Anat Berko (Likud) and Gaby Lasky (Meretz).

Before the event, Marzel called on his supporters via Facebook to come to the college “to protest the disgrace.”

“When I’m in the Knesset,” he wrote, “I’ll do everything to wipe the smile off Zoabi’s face.”

After the riot, Marzel posted an image on Facebook saying, “We promised – and kept our promise!” He asserted that “Otzma Yehudit activists torpedoed the convention.” 

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein ordered police to investigate the assault and look into Marzel’s statements against Zoabi.

The Arab-dominated slate Joint List welcomed Kazarov’s arrest, but said it was “too little and too lenient, in view of the rightist thugs’ attacks. Like Kazarov, hundreds of violent rioters are roaming the streets. They are known to the police, but the latter refrain time and again from acting firmly to stop them, while treating non-violent Arab civilians with disproportionate violence. It’s up to the police to prove that their duty is to protect all people from violence and thuggery.”

The Joint List also said, “We expect the extremist who hit a female member of the party’s professional team on the head with a pole to be indicted already today.”