Knesset deputy speaker calls Israel protesters ‘branch of Hamas’

The deputy speaker of the Israeli Knesset on Tuesday called Israelis protesting against the government a “branch of Hamas”.

“There are a few branches of Hamas — the fighting branch of wicked terrorists who murder children, and the branch of the protests,” Nissim Vaturi told ultra-Orthodox radio station Kol Barama, implying that Israeli protesters were supporting Hamas.

Vaturi was replying to a question about clashes between police and protesters who tried to march on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s house in Jerusalem, calling for a truce deal to return captives held by Hamas and early elections, according to the Times of Israel.

Protesters accused police of using excessive force, with nine people arrested and three taken to hospital.

Vaturi, a member of  has previously made genocidal remarks about Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, saying  Israel should “expel them all” and calling for the  Israeli army to “burn Gaza now”.

In his interview with Kol Barama, Vaturi suggested that families of Israeli captives should make “less of a fuss” and refrain from protesting if they wanted their loved ones back.

“I’ll give you a scoop… the hostage families that I met with, and coincidentally it happened, I’m not saying that, you know, but they came home. It’s not always those who shout and scream who will bring their child home,” the Times of Israel quoted him as saying.

He added that the protests were “of course” harming efforts to release Israeli captives, saying that they were “strengthening Hamas”.

Vaturi’s remarks caused outrage in Israel, with recently resigned war cabinet member Benny Gantz calling for Netanyahu to sack him as deputy Knesset speaker and describing his remarks as “reprehensible”.

The deputy speaker later claimed his remarks were taken out of context and apologised for them.

Around 120 Israeli captives seized by Hamas on 7 October are believed to remain in Gaza, with 41 of these presumed dead.

Israel’s indiscriminate war on Gaza has completely devastated the territory and killed at least 37,372 people, most of them women and children, according to the territory’s health ministry.

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