A humanitarian pause has been agreed in Gaza, whose future is more than uncertain. The Israeli government has stated it would prolong it every day that Hamas releases hostages, but made it certain at the same time that, once the release is completed, operations against the Gaza Strip would resume.
Globally, both are contested: The operations and the Netanyahu government that pursues them. Why did the Netanyahu government that before had rejected all kind of truce, changed its mind? What are the expectations for the future of the military confrontation? How does the Israeli government see the operation?
We asked these questions to Offer Cassif, who is member of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset for the fraction of Hadash, the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality. Hadash is a left-wing party with three parliamentarians in the Knesset. Founded by the Communist Party of Israel, the faction defines itself as Jewish-Arab. Cassif is Jewish and has a clear position in terms of what is happening in Gaza.
“Firstly, this assault against Gaza is a crime, because it is not against Hamas. It is against innocent civilians. Now what I know, what was published, there are 14 thousand dead in Gaza. More than 70% are innocent civilians who have nothing to do with Hamas. It is a crime, a war crime, a crime against humanity, as the international law says clearly.”
We asked Cassif if the ceasefire will last. The communist in the Knesset does not have much hope. And to the question of why Prime Minister Netanyahu has accepted it, even though he previously rejected any truce, Cassif answers clearly.
“I’m afraid that after four days, Israel will bomb Gaza like before. People must understand: Netanyahu is not a leader; he is a psychopath who only wants his well-being. He does not care about Israelis, obviously not for Palestinians. He cares only for himself. Some days ago, he thought that any ceasefire was bad for him. But then, he saw the protests inside Israel in favor of a ceasefire to get the hostages released, and he saw the polls. Thus, he changed his mind.”
Cassif argues that the prime minister saw the polls against him and changed his position. Despite this, the future of his government is very limited.
“I am sure that after the war, in a few months, or less, this government will fall, and we will have elections. And surely the fascist right is going to lose. There is another right that is going to win, not the left or the center is going to win. The center and the right are going to win the elections.”
Cassif observes a messianic wave in the population, which even dreams of recolonizing Gaza. “Unfortunately, the majority of the Israeli population demands revenge. This is a huge mistake. There are even people dreaming of reintroducing Jewish settlements to Gaza. This is madness. I am sure that in a future, I don’t know when, in a month, in 6 months, in two years, Israelis will understand that it is a mistake. Just as it happened in Lebanon, where invasion was supported, but after 15 years, public opinion turned 180 degrees. But it will cost a high price that both, Palestinians and Israelis will pay.”
Cassif also reminds that Ben Gvir, current minister of national security, has liberalized gun laws, with the consequence that around 7,000 civilians obtained rifles.
“Especially if there are elections and the right is going to lose, there is a danger of a civil war. That they are going to shoot with these weapons.”
Ofer Cassif is a militant. In 2021, he was beaten by police while protesting against Jewish settlers in Jerusalem. And a month ago he was suspended from parliament for 45 days for having said that Netanyahu was seeking “the final solution” against the Palestinians – an expression of the Nazis against the Jews.
His evaluation of the Israeli government: “The Prime Minister is arrogant. He does not want to listen to experts. For him, all this is a plan of God. Every time he speaks, he says they will succeed thanks to God. They don’t have any plan, neither political nor economic. The majority of the cabinet of this government has no idea of nothing, the ministers have no idea of economy, of security, of politics, of society… And obviously, of morals.”
The member of Knesset emphasizes that the Netanyahu government constitutes a danger for Israelis. He sees a contradiction between government and people inside Israel and makes his call to the West in that context:
“If the world wants to help the Israeli people, it must stop this Israeli government.” He points out that, though not in the same way, the Israeli people are also suffering, with hundreds of thousands being evacuated from the Lebanese and Gaza borders.
His solution is plain and direct: “There must be a ceasefire first. Then, negotiations must begin for a just peace agreement. The occupation of Palestinian territories must end, because this occupation is the root of all evil.”
Ofer Cassif makes a call to avoid a dichotomy in the conflict. He criticizes both, those who side completely with Israel and those who support completely Hamas.
His conclusion is a statement, a prediction and a warning to those dreaming of ethnic cleansing:
“The two peoples are going to live and be in their lands forever. Nobody is going to get out of there. Nobody. Both peoples have the right to live in security and peace. And therefore, the most important thing is to end the occupation. It is the root of everything that is bad there.”
This interview was first published in Spanish on TeleSUR TV.