Gaza: Dr. Aqel Taqaz and Dr. Ofer Cassif, progressive politicians from Palestine and Israel respectively, speak to Liberation and issue urgent calls for peace and solidarity

Dr. Aqel Taqaz, of the People’s Party of Palestine, and Dr. Ofer Cassif, Member of the Israeli Knesset (MK) for the Hadash-Ta’al coalition, speak to Liberation in the aftermath of last Saturday’s massacre in the Nuseirat refugee camp and amid the ever-worsening humanitarian catastrophe in the Gaza Strip as Israel’s bloody offensive seemingly reaches its fevered climax.

The following are transcripts of brief audio messages kindly supplied to Liberation by both politicians in recent days…

Dr. Aqel Taqaz is Coordinator for International Relations of the Palestinian People’s Party (PPP), Secretary of the Palestinian Committee for Peace and Solidarity (PCPS), and a member of the Secretariat of the World Peace Council (WPC).

“The latest Israeli massacre in Nuseirat, Gaza, showed that the main aim of Israel is to kill as many Palestinians as possible, as it has been doing over the previous eight months. To save four hostages, they have killed around 300 Palestinians and injured 600 more. This only goes to show that the claims regarding the lives of civilians made by Israel, backed by the United States and the United Kingdom and others – that they have always been interested in [protecting] civilian lives – amount to a big lie.

“Without the help and support of the US, the UK, and other Western countries, Israel simply could not continue with its genocide and for this long a time. Because of this, we believe that the West, especially the US and UK, are partners in this genocide against the Palestinians in Gaza, aiming to push Palestinians out of Gaza to become refugees elsewhere once more and for Israel to continue with its occupation.

“We believe that this latest massacre, unfortunately, could not have happened without the full support of the US and UK intelligence agencies. Thus, we believe that without changing their policies and putting pressure on Israel to stop this war, the killing of Palestinians, especially civilians, will continue on for a long time to come. This is just what Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has always stated would be the case, that he would continue this war until he has achieved his goals. However, after eight months of this genocide, he has not achieved any of these goals. He has not succeeded in pushing Palestinians [out of Gaza] into Egypt, he has not succeeded in destroying Hamas, and he has not succeeded in freeing the [Israeli] hostages.

“Owing to this reality, we believe that the international community must put pressure on Israel as well as on the US, UK, and Western countries to stop this genocide and the ongoing crimes against our people. Furthermore, we believe that solidarity from the people abroad is especially important. We have witnessed how, during the recent elections for the European Parliament, the governments that are supporting Israel are losing support. Therefore, these governments must rethink their policies and hear the voices of their peoples who have been demonstrating in the streets.

“We would like to thank the British people who have taken to the streets throughout these months calling for a ceasefire. And we believe that it is very important that these protests continue. Without a comprehensive political resolution of the Palestinian issue, the Middle East will remain in perpetual instability and at the risk of further explosions and new wars.

“The two-state solution is still very much on the table, but not the two-state solution which US president Mr. Biden has been talking about. We believe that full Palestinian statehood must be established within the borders as they stood on 4 June 1967 with a free East Jerusalem as its capital, along with the resolving of the issue of Palestinian refugees in accordance with United Nations Resolution 194. Without this, the prospects for peace in the Middle East region, and especially Israel, will remain poor. An enduring peace is in the interests of both sides and therefore it is the responsibility of the international community and the peoples of the world to press the US, UK, and Western countries, and ultimately Israel, to bring an end to this atrocious campaign and to sit down and resolve this long-festering issue once and for all.

“However, this cannot be in the way countenanced by the US over the last three decades… There must be an international conference convened with the participation of all sides, especially the UN, Russia, China, and the neighbouring [Middle Eastern] countries, who are interested in a future of peace in the region.

“We would like to thank you again for your solidarity and long may it continue!”

Dr. Ofer Cassif is a Member of the Israeli Knesset (MK) representing the progressive Hadash-Ta’al coalition, formerly part of the Joint List parliamentary grouping until its dissolution in 2022, bringing together Hadash (the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality, itself a coalition of left-wing parties) and Ta’al (the Arab Movement for Renewal).

“As I am sure you are aware, the situation across the Gaza Strip is very, very grave. The death toll is continuously on the rise. We know that around 40,000 people have already been killed – among them 15,000 children and thousands upon thousands of women, the elderly, as well as the sick and injured who could not receive critically needed medical treatment because hospitals across the Gaza Strip have been destroyed. We bear witness to a terrible level of destruction across the territory and, of course, starvation, dehydration, as well as a lack of medicine and many other vital services. Make no mistake, this is an absolute catastrophe!

“We are talking about a level of destruction and ruin that many experts who have been in other disaster zones around the world have simply never experienced the likes of before. We urgently need your assistance and solidarity in order to stop this bloodshed, to stop this criminal genocidal war, so as to help our brothers and sisters among the innocent civilians of Gaza. So, please, do the best you can to assist the people of Gaza and to assist us in our opposition to this criminal genocidal massacre.

“I also must emphasise that under the smokescreen of the ongoing assault on Gaza, there are also heinous crimes being committed by the Israeli occupation in the West Bank where ethnic cleansing has been going on unchecked. Armed illegal settlers, operating under the auspices of the occupation forces, carry out attacks and assaults on Palestinian shepherds and others on a daily basis. More than 20 Palestinian communities have perished, having had to flee this violence – all of which has been committed with the awareness, even encouragement, of the Israeli government. So, this must be counted as another consequence of the ongoing massacre in Gaza.

“Within Israel proper, there is a process of ‘fascistisation’ and political persecution taking place, mainly directed against Palestinian citizens, who constitute around 20% of the citizenry of Israel, but also against democratic Jews like myself and others. And we are under continuous attack. Our rights and liberties are under continuous attack. Therefore, we urgently need your help and solidarity.

“As I said before, please do the best you can in order to assist us in our democratic struggle against the massacre in Gaza, against the ethnic cleansing taking place in the West Bank including East Jerusalem, and in order to prevent fascism from taking control over the state of Israel.

“Thank you so very much for your attention and continued solidarity!”

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