A Zionist Union MK found himself embroiled in controversy Friday afternoon after stating that a Palestinian who recently launched an assault against IDF soldiers in Hebron was "not a terrorist."
During an interview with Army Radio, Zionist Union MK Zouheir Bahloul said that he agreed that the assailant "was a murderer" but argued that Israel was stigmatizing the Arab community as a whole by describing each perpetrator involved in attacks against security forces as a "terrorist."
"My issue is that this word has become too generalized, turning every Arab into a terrorist. In the eyes of Israelis, anyone who fights for their freedom and independence is a terrorist.”
On March 24, Military Police arrested a soldier who was seen firing a shot to the head of an already wounded Palestinian terrorist, as he lay on his back in a Hebron street, near the Jewish Tel Rumeida neighborhood.
A volunteer for the NGO B’Tselem who lives near the scene of the incident filmed the shooting from the window of his home.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately condemmed the remarks, calling them "shameful."
"IDF soldiers defend us from these bloodthirsty terrorists with their lives. I expect every Israeli citizen, and especially Knesset members, to fully support them,” Netanyahu said.
Members from Bahloul 's own party also distanced themselves from his comments, with Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog saying that he "strongly rejected" the statement.
"The Zionist Union’s stance is that a terrorist is a terrorist is a terrorist, and it doesn’t matter if he set out to kill Arabs or Jews,” the opposition leader added.
Zionist Union members also released a joint statment stating: “We are in the midst of a terror wave, and the government of Israel should begin to deal with it effectively. The terrorist in Hebron was the same as any other terrorist. The comments made by MK Bahloul do not reflect or represent the stance of the Zionist Union.”
According to the International Criminal Court, terrorism is interpreted as: "[The] use of firearms, weapons, explosives, and dangerous substances when used as a means to perpetrate indiscriminate violence involving death or serious bodily injury to persons or groups of persons or populations or serious damage to property."The ICC notes, however, that the term terrorism "[lacks] of a clear and universally accepted definition."