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Far-left MK: Kiryat Arba shooter not a terrorist, settlers aren’t innocent civilians

Ofer Cassif, the only Jewish MK in Hadash-Ta’al, says that while he supports a nonviolent struggle, he does not ‘expect the occupied and repressed to just sit and do nothing’

Hadash MK Ofer Cassif at a Knesset Arrangements Committee meeting on June 21, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Hadash MK Ofer Cassif at a Knesset Arrangements Committee meeting on June 21, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Hadash-Ta’al MK Ofer Cassif said Monday that he did not consider the Palestinian gunman who killed Ronen Hanania in a shooting attack near the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Araba on Saturday to be a terrorist.

In an interview with the Ynet news site, Cassif was asked if he considered settlers killed in West Bank attacks to be victims of terror, with Hanania given as an example.

Cassif, the alliance’s only Jewish MK, said he did not.

“Don’t portray him as a simple man,” he said of Hanania.

“Especially those that live as a thorn in the side [of the Palestinians], they can’t be considered innocent civilians,” Cassif said.

“Myself and my friends in Hadash have for years said that we support a nonviolent struggle, but that’s what happens in every place where there is occupation and repression — those who expect the occupied and repressed to just sit and do nothing are lying to themselves,” the lawmaker added.

Ronen Hanania, shot dead in a terrorist attack near the Kiryat Arba settlement in the southern West Bank on October 29, 2022. (Courtesy)

Hanania and his son Daniel were shot Saturday evening while visiting a convenience store located between Kiryat Arba and the adjacent city of Hebron.

The attacker was identified as Muhammed Kamel al-Jabari, an apparent member of the Hamas terror group. After shooting Hanania and his son, Jabari opened fire on medics and settlement security guards who arrived at the scene to help the pair, seriously wounding a paramedic.

The Palestinian perpetrator of a shooting terror attack near Kiryat Arba in the West Bank is seen in dashcam footage, a moment before he is rammed by a security officer and shot dead by an off-duty soldier, October 29, 2022. (Screenshot; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Religious Zionism leader Bezalel Smotrich said he was shocked to hear Cassif’s remarks.

“As far as he is concerned, it would be okay to murder my wife, my children and myself, as well as half a million settlers in Judea and Samaria,” Smotrich said, using the West Bank’s biblical name.

His political partner, Itamar Ben Gvir, added, “Cassif is the reason people should vote for the right. The bill aimed at deporting terror supporters that we intend to bring to the Knesset will apply to politicians like him who support terrorism.”

MK Itamar Ben Gvir, head of the Otzma Yehudit political party, attends the funeral of Ronen Hanania, who was killed in a gun attack near the Kiryat Arba settlement, in Jerusalem, October 30, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Cassif’s statements followed divisive comments by Hadash-Ta’al MK Aida Touma-Sliman last week, when she referred to five slain members of a Palestinian terror group as “martyrs” and asserted that their “resistance” was a response to “the occupation.”

Posting on Facebook photos from a mass funeral in Nablus for five members of the Lion’s Den terrorist group who were killed in an overnight IDF raid in the city, the lawmaker wrote: “The more the occupation increases its crimes, the resistance escalates. An important lesson in the history of nations.”

Her comments drew intense political criticism.

Joint Arab List MK Aida Touma-Sliman in the Knesset in Jerusalem on June 8, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Meanwhile, in another controversial statement ahead of the election, Shas leader Aryeh Deri claimed Monday that if slain former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin had been alive today he would vote for the ultra-Orthodox party and not the Labor party he led, now headed by Merav Michaeli.

Deri took a dig at Michaeli, who in recent days has accused right-wing leaders in Israel of being complicit in the incitement that led up to Rabin’s assassination in 1995.

“I knew Rabin,” Deri told the Ynet news site. “Believe me, if he were alive he would vote for Shas, not Michaeli.”

Deri also vowed that his party will not break from its right-wing religious bloc to partner with Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

Michaeli responded to Deri by accusing him of “embracing” the far-right.

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