Israel lawmaker blames occupation, violence against Palestinians for Hamas attack
An Israeli lawmaker said on Sunday that he and his party had repeatedly warned that Israel's illegal occupation of Palestinian territories could result in an eruption of violence like Saturday's surprise attack on Israel by Hamas.
Ofer Cassif, a member of the Knesset (MK) for the left-wing Hadash coalition, said he warned the situation would "erupt" if the far-right Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not change its policies towards Palestinians.
"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," Cassif said in an interview with Al Jazeera.
Saturday’s surprise assault on Israel led by Hamas has resulted in the deaths of at least 800 Israelis, with 493 Palestinians also killed since then.
Israel has bombarded Gaza, including many residential areas of the densely populated strip, leading to the displacement of over 120,000 Palestinian civilians.
"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 analyse those terrible incidents [the Hamas attack] in the right context – and that is the ongoing occupation," Cassif told Al Jazeera.
Israel's decades-long occupation has seen Palestinians denied statehood and basic human rights, as well as being subject to what rights groups say is cruel, inhumane and discriminatory treatment akin to apartheid.
'Written in the blood of Palestinians'
Before Saturday, more than 200 Palestinians had been killed by Israeli forces since the beginning of the 2023, mostly as a result of deadly raids carried out by the Israeli army in the West Bank, along with settler violence that has massively increased under the far-right Netanyahu government.
The victims have mostly been civilians, including children.
Israeli settlers, encouraged by far-right ministers like National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, have regularly carried out provocative incursions on Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, a site considered Islam's third-holiest site and a symbol of Palestinian statehood.
Before Saturday's attack, high profile Israeli military and intelligence figures, including a former head of Mossad and highly decorated generals, had denounced Israel’s occupation as engendering a dangerous landscape of apartheid and war crimes.
"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," Cassif said.