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Deputy Expelled From Israeli Knesset Hall For Saying Al-Shifa Hospital Raid In Gaza Is 'War Crime'

03.04.2024 23:27

Security remove, expel Ofer Cassif amid shouts from right wing lawmakers protesting his speech.

Security at the Israeli Knesset expelled left-wing lawmaker Ofer Cassif from parliament hall Wednesday after he said the Israeli operation at the Al-Shifa Hospital in the Gaza Strip is a "war crime."

Cassif, a member of the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality, is a member of the Arab-Jewish party.

The Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper said Cassif, whom the Knesset failed to recently oust because of his anti-war position on Gaza, started his speech from the podium by "ing World Health Organization's Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, following a recent second Israeli raid on the hospital.

The Israeli army announced Monday its withdrawal from the Al-Shifa Medical Complex in Gaza City after a two-week military operation, leaving behind immense destruction and dozens of bodies.

"Hospitals should never become battlefields. Protecting young children, patients, medical staff, and all citizens must be a top priority," said Cassif.

Several lawmakers from the ruling right-wing coalition then approached the platform and interrupted Cassif's speech and demanded Deputy Hanoch Milfediski, who chaired the session, stop him from speaking.

But Cassif continued to talk.

"Before the invasion, thousands of Palestinians, displaced and refugees, sought refuge at the hospital to escape the horrors of war, but the terror of war crimes chased them inside the hospital's protected gates," he said.

Shouts then erupted from Knesset members who left their seats and approached the platform before the session chair called for security guards and requested that Cassif be forcibly removed and expelled from the hall.

Israeli right-wing lawmakers failed Feb. 19 to oust Cassif for his support for a South African lawsuit at the International Court of Justice that accused Tel Aviv of committing "genocide" in Gaza.

At that time, 85 lawmakers in the 120-seat Knesset supported a proposal submitted by right-wing members to oust Cassif, but it did not receive the necessary majority of 90 votes.

Israel has waged a deadly military offensive on Gaza since an Oct. 7 cross-border attack by the Palestinian resistance group, Hamas, which killed less than 1,200 people.

At least 32,975 Palestinians have since been killed and nearly 75,577 injured amid mass destruction and shortages of necessities. Israel has imposed a crippling blockade on Gaza, leaving its population, particularly residents of northern Gaza, on the verge of starvation.

The Israeli war has pushed 85% of Gaza's population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while 60% of the enclave's infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

Israel is accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which last week asked Israel to do more to prevent famine in Gaza.

*Writing by Rania Abu Shamala -

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