Israeli-Arab Teen Receives Threats from Own Family for Calling for Return of Kidnapped Teens

by Molly Wharton

Family members of a young Israeli-Arab have been arrested for threatening the teenager after he publicly called for the release of three kidnapped Yeshiva students.

Mohammad Zoabi, who is 16, posted a video on YouTube in which he expressed his solidarity with the three Israeli teenagers who were kidnapped last Thursday night in the West Bank. With an Israeli flag in the background, Zoabi proclaimed: “Those terrorists that have kidnapped our kids — bring them back, and you had better bring them back now!”

He told his viewers that these terrorists do not differentiate between Arabs and Jews who live in Israel. “For them we are all one, for them we are all Israelis,” he said. “And you know what? I’m proud about that. I’m an Israeli and I will remain an Israeli.”

His video, as of Wednesday, afternoon, had received almost 90,000 views. Online commenters threatened Zoabi with insults and violent threats. One expressed his or her desire that Zoabi himself would be kidnapped, writing, “I wish that next time it would be you.” 

Threats to the teenager came even from within his own family. Police arrested Zoabi’s father, aunt, and grandmother, who are suspected of threatening to take him to the West Bank and to harm him, according to the Times of Israel.

Radical left-wing politician and Knesset member Hanin Zoabi, who is Mohammad Zoabi’s elder cousin, also had harsh words for her relative. “I am happy to see that the Israeli hasbara (propaganda) is in such a dire state it needs a stupid boy with a twisted identity, who feels a continuous need to apologize to his strong masters,” she told Ynet. 

Hanin Zoabi made headlines herself this week with her claim that the kidnappers of the Yeshiva students are not terrorists. On an interview with Radio Tel Aviv on Tuesday, she said, “They’re people who don’t see any way to change their reality and they are forced to use these means until Israel will wake up a little, until Israeli citizens and society will wake up and feel the suffering of the other.” Some politicians have called for putting Hanin Zoabi on trial or removing her from the Knesset, arguing that she has broken the law against incitement to violence or terror, according to the Jersualem Post. 

Mohammad Zoabi’s mother defended her son on Tel Aviv Radio, saying, “Maybe I taught my son to fight for justice, my son got up and had the courage to speak. In my life, I have never spoken like this. Maybe I felt it inside, but I never dared [to speak out]. He had the courage.”

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