Oren Hazan
Oren HazanHillel Maeir/TPS

Controversial Likud MK Oren Hazan made headlines again on Monday when he said to MK Ilon Gilon (Meretz) “you are half a human being” during a heated debate at the Knesset over the Cultural Loyalty Law.

Gilon, who suffered from polio as a child, is handicapped as a result, has trouble walking unaided and uses a wheelchair at times.

A commotion broke out at the plenum following Hazan's statement. MK Hilik Bar (Zionist Union) demanded that Deputy Knesset Speaker MK Meir Cohen (Yesh Atid), who was presiding over the debate, remove Hazan from the room, saying, "How do you allow him to curse everyone here?”

MK Stav Shafir (Zionist Union) blasted Hazan over the remarks, writing on Twitter, "The contemptible Knesset member from the Likud who will remain nameless just now called Ilan Gilon, a brave and wise Knesset member who suffers from disability, 'half a human being.'"

"If he is not kicked out of the Likud in the coming hour, it shows the true face of this party. That's the way they want to lead Israel. Nauseating,” she added.

The Meretz party said in response, "This lousy and miserable incident against one of the most popular and beloved people in the Knesset, Ilan Gilon, only attests to the fact that the ruling party has reached the bottom of the barrel. We remain loyal to culture and to the culture of debate and deny the censorship, rudeness, and cynicism of Minister Regev and MK Hazan."

Hazan later denied that his remarks were meant to mock Gilon’s disability.

"Gilon called me 'the golem from Prague,' I replied that I do not respond to those who have a culture of half a human being. Now they turn it around and claim that I said something about his disability and take things out of context. Are only MKs from the left allowed to curse and slander?” Hazan told Arutz Sheva.

"During the remarks of MK Ilan Gilon in the plenum, I was severely insulted as he called me ignorant. My calm and measured response to his insults was that I would not respond to him because he is half a human being," he insisted.

"This response stemmed from his humiliating behavior and because of the fact that MK Gilon has not stopped cursing, slandering, blaming and insulting me. Since there were those who tried to forcefully take my remarks out of context, while calling me a beast, a zero and a bunch of other curses, I made clear that my remarks were made only in relation to the low-level behavior of MK Gilon and nothing else," Hazan added.

Hazan asked to apologize to anyone who was hurt by his remarks and said, "If someone accidentally understood my remarks differently, I apologize. It is important to clarify that I will fire back at anyone who continuously curses me and I will not apologize for that. To take a common expression that is used instead of cursing someone and telling him obscene things by describing him as someone who behaves like half a person and turn it into a comment against people with disabled, is bad politics and nothing more than incitement. It is important to note that this is not the first time that MKs have called me names and curses aimed at hurting me, and this is not the first time that I have responded with ‘half a human being’. But for the sake of removing any doubt, I will make it crystal clear that I see all human beings as equals without exception."

Hazan is no stranger to controversies and has come under fire in the past for his verbal attacks against other MKs.

He has not been afraid to confront Arab MKs over their anti-Israel actions and statements but also caused an uproar in his own party when he referred to his colleague, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, as “Stalin”.

Earlier this year, the Knesset's Ethics Committee decided to distance Hazan from plenum and committee deliberations for a period of six months after five complaints were submitted against him by Knesset members from various parties.