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Joint List MK: Lapid went to war to win election, ‘at expense of Palestinian blood’

Israeli Arab lawmaker Sami Abou Shehadeh claims Israeli society has ‘lost its humanity’ by standing behind Gaza operation

Tobias (Toby) Siegal is a breaking news editor and contributor to The Times of Israel.

Joint List MK Sami Abu Shehadeh (Screen capture: YouTube)
Joint List MK Sami Abu Shehadeh (Screen capture: YouTube)

An Israeli Arab politician slammed Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Sunday, claiming he launched the operation in Gaza in an attempt to win the upcoming Knesset election “at the expense of Palestinian blood” and criticizing the Israeli public, which he claimed had “lost its humanity.”

In a statement, Joint List MK Sami Abou Shehadeh of the opposition said that “recent election polls have upset Lapid and [Defense Minister Benny] Gantz,” adding that “they are trying to pave their way back to power at the expense of Palestinian blood.”

Earlier, in a TV interview with the Kan public broadcaster, Abou Shehadeh referred to the latest operation in Gaza — dubbed Operation Breaking Dawn by Israel — as a “war crime.”

Addressing the assassinations of senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad commanders Tayseer Jabari and Khaled Mansour, Abou Shehadeh said: “Every killing without a trial is a crime, and if Jews carry it out it doesn’t make it legitimate.”

But Abou Shehadeh said the thing that frightened him most was that the Israeli society and media had completely aligned behind what he called a “massive machine of destruction.”

He said that “behind [Israel’s] smart bombs lies a dumb society; only a dumb society loses its humanity.”

Abou Shehadeh blamed mainstream media for failing to report the destruction in Gaza and the deaths of Palestinian children during the Israeli operation.

Rockets are launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, in Gaza City, August 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

In one of those alleged incidents, at least seven civilians, including four children, were killed at the Jabaliya refugee camp in Gaza on Saturday. Palestinian media initially blamed Israel for the strike, but the IDF then published what it said were “videos that prove beyond any doubt that [the rocket was] not an Israeli attack,” but rather a failed Islamic Jihad rocket launch.

Confronted with the argument that Israel was not behind the incident he mentioned, Abou Shehadeh said: “All those accused of war crimes must be taken to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, including the prime minister, the defense minister and the military, and [Islamic] Jihad operatives.”

He continued: “Why is Israel afraid of The Hague? Because it knows its machine of destruction belongs in jail.”

Abou Shehadeh, who on Saturday retained his role as the leader of Balad, one of the three factions that make up the Knesset’s Joint List party, was not the first Israeli Arab lawmaker to blame the deaths in the Jabaliya incident on Israel.

Shortly after Palestinian reports accused Israel of the incident, Joint List member Ahmad Tibi published a post on Twitter that read: “This is what the UK and the US mean when they refer to Israel’s right to defend itself. Three ‘dangerous terrorists’ were killed in Gaza. Clearly Israel is safer now,” he wrote, alongside pictures of the dead children.

MK Ahmad Tibi attends a Joint Arab list faction meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on March 7, 2022 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Tibi’s tweet was met with scathing responses by many Israeli lawmakers.

“While the IDF and security forces are doing everything to protect us all, some choose to spread lies, to support terrorism and to go against those who protect him. Tibi, you don’t belong in the Knesset or in the State of Israel,” Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman tweeted.

“Liar,” wrote Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel. “We have videos that prove without a doubt that the Israel Defense Force did not attack Jabaliya in recent hours.”

The tweet was deleted on Sunday morning.

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