Israeli occupation is 'biggest terror' in Middle East - Joint List MK

Israeli occupation gave birth to apartheid and demonization and dehumanization of Palestinians, MK Ofer Cassif charged at a Knesset conference.

 MK Ofer Cassif  attends  a "55 years of occupation" conference in the Knesset, Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem on June 08 2022 (photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
MK Ofer Cassif attends a "55 years of occupation" conference in the Knesset, Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem on June 08 2022
(photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

Israel’s “occupation” of the Palestinians is the “biggest terror” in the region, MK Ofer Cassif said on Wednesday at a Knesset conference hosted by the caucus to end the occupation.

“There is a very simple reason” why this is so, Cassif said. He was speaking to left-wing parliamentarians and NGO representatives who gathered in a Knesset conference room to focus on the harm done to the Palestinians since the 1967 Six Day War, when it captured the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem from Jordan.

The accepted definition of terror is not a political one” such as occurs within the Israeli discourse and in its parliament, he said. The globally recognized understanding is that “terror is a form of violence, including the threat of violence, against innocent civilians in order to achieve political aims.”

“The occupation is exactly this. It acts against civilians who are innocent [using] violence and oppression and the threat of it against millions of innocents when the objective is political” Cassif said.

He provided this definition to back up his initial words that “the occupation is the biggest terror [that exists] in the entire region, certainly when it comes to Palestine/Israel.”

 (L-R) Joint List MKs Aida Touma-Sliman, Ahmad Tibi and Ofer Cassif seen at a court hearing at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem August 22, 2019 (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) (L-R) Joint List MKs Aida Touma-Sliman, Ahmad Tibi and Ofer Cassif seen at a court hearing at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem August 22, 2019 (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Those who want to ignore the fact that the “occupation is ‘the terror’ is either an ignoramus who doesn’t know what terror is or is a liar who knows what terror is and is trying to hide it,” Cassif said.

Even former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a book he wrote, spoke of those who fight against a military force are guerrillas and not terrorists, Cassif explained.

“When such a terror exists there is resistance,” he said, adding that there is no such thing as a benign occupation. “No nation will live under a foreign government without resisting.”

"No nation will live under a foreign government without resisting"

Joint List MK Ofer Cassif

The occupation itself also gives birth to other crimes such as acts of “apartheid” and the demonization and dehumanization of those who resist, Cassif added.

Rebel Yamina MK Amihai Chikli pushed back at the idea that Israel was an occupying force in its biblical heartland, noting that if one was talking about occupation, then the matter didn’t go back 55 years but 3,500 years.

He read from the Bible about the start of King David’s reign, stating, “David captured Jerusalem.” His words prompted conference chair MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Joint List) to ask, “So is that where the occupation started?”

Chikli said there was a claim that “we are not the natives here, but we are the natives of this area, of Judea and Samaria.”

NGO reps, left-wing lawmakers speak at conference

Kholod Massalha of the NGO I’lam, the Arab Center for Media Freedom Development and Research, spoke of the danger to journalists from the IDF, noting that since 2005, some 22 journalists have been killed covering the conflict while in the field.

In all cases, he said, they were wearing vests and helmets clearly marking them as press. Almost all the deaths were Palestinian journalists. Only a few of their deaths were investigated and in all cases, no conclusions were reached.

The problem of safety is so acute, Massalha said, that journalists feel it is safer to forgo the protective vest and helmet marked press lest they become a target.

Yahel Gazit, from the NGO The Campaign to Save Masafer Yatta, spoke of the danger of eviction for more than 1,000 Palestinians living in Firing Zone 918 in the West Bank’s South Hebron Hills.

Attorney Michal Ziv of Yesh Din spoke of the Palestinian loss of farmland to settlers, who illegally expropriate it with the support of the IDF. By creating illegal farms, Ziv said, the maximum amount of land is expropriated with the minimum amount of people.

Uri Givati of Breaking the Silence spoke of an IDF operation called “blue wolf” by which, he alleged, the army is digitally recording the faces of Palestinians in the West Bank.

HaMoked director-general Jessica Montel spoke of restrictive new IDF measures on entry permits for the Palestinian territories.

Noa Galili, of Gisha-Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, spoke of the difficulty in obtaining exit permits for Palestinians to leave Gaza to seek medical treatment in Israel, which in some cases leads to the patients’ death including that of infants.

The event also included parliamentarians from the Meretz and Labor parties.

Touma-Sliman charged that the “occupation” and its “dispossession and oppression” of Palestinians was deepening.

“It is the duty of every man and woman with integrity and moral backbone, to challenge this enterprise, and to act for its dissolution,” she said. “It must be said in a sharp and clear voice, without compromise: enough with occupation, racism and apartheid.”