Israeli Communist lawmaker warns ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Palestinians is underway
Ofer Cassif, member of the Knesset and a leader of the Communist Party of Israel, warns that an 'ethnic cleansing' of Palestinians is underway. | Photo via CPI

JERUSALEM—A lawmaker with the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality (Hadash) coalition and leading Communist Party of Israel (CPI) member, Ofer Cassif, has told Al Jazeera that his party warned about events like last weekend’s deadly Hamas attack on Israel if the country’s government continued its occupation of Palestinian territories.

The attack launched last Saturday left at least 700 Israelis dead and 2,000 wounded, including dozens of soldiers. In the war which has ensued in the aftermath of that attack, at least 2,800 Palestinians and Israelis have been killed, with most Palestinian deaths due to Israeli bombardments of the besieged Gaza enclave.

Cassif, a member of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, said he warned that the situation would “erupt” if the far-right government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not change its policies towards Palestinians.

“We condemn and oppose any assault on innocent civilians. But in contrast to the Israeli government, that means that we oppose any assault on Palestinian civilians as well. We must analyze those terrible incidents [the deadly Hamas attacks] in the right context—and that is the ongoing occupation,” Cassif said.

“We have been warning time and time again…everything is going to erupt and everybody is going to pay a price—mainly innocent civilians on both sides. And unfortunately, that is exactly what happened,” he said.

“The Israeli government, which is a fascist government, supports, encourages, and leads pogroms against the Palestinians. There is an ethnic cleansing going on. It was obvious the writing was on the wall, written in the blood of the Palestinians—and unfortunately now Israelis as well,” he added.

It wasn’t just opposition members of parliament like Cassif who were talking of genocide. A member of Netanyahu’s Likud Party in the Knesset tweeted, “Right now, one goal: Nakba! A Nakba that will overshadow the Nakba of ’48.” This is a reference to the original ethnic cleansing of Palestinians that happened when the State of Israel was founded in 1948.

“The only thing Netanyahu cares about is not the well-being of the citizens of Israel, let alone of Palestinians in the occupied territories,” Cassif declared. “He is interested in surviving. He just wants to stay out of prison. That is the only motivation and incentive that drives him.”

Cassif posted a video to social media expanding on his comments. He said:

“Nothing justifies the crimes and massacres committed [by Hamas] in the south of Israel. But the writing was on the wall, as I warned for a long time: We will pay a heavy price for the crimes of the occupation, the siege on Gaza, and the arrogance of the racist Kahanist government.”

Cassif was referring to Netanyahu’s extremist coalition allies who adhere to the Zionist ideology of Rabbi Meir Kahane, founder of the Jewish Defense League.

“There is no military solution, only a political one—the end of the occupation and Palestinian independence,” Cassif reiterated.

Another leading member of the Communist Party of Israel and former Hadash MK, Dov Khenin, called for moderation on both sides and urged for a change of direction in an op-ed published by Zo Haderech.

“Saturday’s events are heartbreaking. A terrible attack on civilians in their homes is an inconceivable crime,” he said. “The next days will be trying days. We must not let people who want us to hate each other forever succeed. Without a change of direction, we are doomed to continue living the horrors of today.

“Two nations live in our country, and if we can’t allow them a life of freedom and independence, we will never be able to go to sleep in peace. It won’t be easy and won’t happen soon, but only true peace can bring us the security, which is so lacking.”

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Zo HaDerekh
Zo HaDerekh

Zo HaDerekh (This Is The Way) is the Communist Party of Israel's Hebrew-language newspaper.