In a debate at the Akko municipality, Arab MK Hanin Zoabi (Balad) accused local authorities of intentionally not renovating the heavy damage caused by a February gas-leak explosion. According to Zoabi, the lack of action was meant to prepare for an expulsion of Arabs from the city.
Foul play is being investigated in connection to the explosion, which killed five Arab residents of Akko. It is suspected that a dispute between neighbors over a cell phone tower may have led to the fatal blast, and several arrests have taken place as part of the investigation.
"I think they aren't renovating the buildings because they want to expel them (Arab residents) from the houses, it's a nationalistic policy of expulsion," charged Zoabi. She pointing the finger at the municipality, the Authority for Akko Development, and the Amidar housing company for the "nationalistic crimes."
Concerning the financial burden of repair the blast damage, Zoabi noted "people can be obligated to renovate, but to obligate them with all of the expenses is an exaggerated decision made only to expel them from the city."
Zoabi has been accused herself in the past of threatening behavior and "acting like a mafia member." A petition was also filed against her for her participation in the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla which sought to break the IDF's legal blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza, and ended up with terrorists on the ships attacking IDF soldiers with bars and knives. The Supreme Court ruled last December Zoabi won't be tried for her involvement in the attack on Israel.
The Arab MK has also made numerous provocative statements, such as one during her appearance on Knesset TV last November, where she said she should be thanked for "allowing Jews to stay in my homeland."
'The accusations are completely inaccurate'
Yoram Halfon, representative for Amidar, cut through Zoabi's accusations, saying "the accusations are completely inaccurate. The building that collapsed isn't even under Amidar's ownership at all."
"We aren't expelling protected residents from their homes, but rather funding them with alternative rent while we're renovating the home and footing the expenses of preserving the building," argued Halfon. "As for the fundamental reinforcement, we are funding part of it because we aren't the only owners."
Regarding the situation in Akko, in which many buildings are in need of renovation, MK Dov Khenin of the communist Hadash party argued at the discussion that the government should help foot the bill.
"The country has to bear a portion of the expenses, because there's a fear the another building will collapse and we'll all have to gather for additional discussions for tragic circumstances," Khenin remarked. It is worth noting the building did not collapse, but rather exploded from suspected criminal activity.