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An outspoken Israeli lawmaker, Ofer Cassif, stirred controversy by endorsing a petition in support of South Africa’s genocide case against Israel.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is hearing arguments that Israel is committing genocide in its war on Gaza.
South Africa filed the lawsuit in December, in a move welcomed by several countries amid a global chorus for a ceasefire in Gaza.
At least 23,210 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza since October 7, with more than 59,000 wounded.
Who is Ofer Cassif?
Cassif is a politician from the left-wing, Arab-majority Hadash-Ta’al party, Hadash being the Hebrew acronym for the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality. Born in Rishon LeZion near Tel Aviv in 1964, he has been a member of the Israeli parliament for nearly five years.
Cassif has a doctorate in political philosophy from the London School of Economics and he was an academic at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem before he entered parliament.
Cassif, a member of the left-wing Hadash-Ta’al party, declared his support on social media and emphasized his duty to Israeli society, distancing himself from a government he accuses of promoting ethnic cleansing and genocide. The parliamentarian, known for his dissenting views, holds a doctorate in political philosophy and has a history of opposition to mainstream Israeli policies, including a stint in jail for refusing military service in the occupied territories. Despite being kept off the ballot in the 2019 elections, Cassif was later elected to the Knesset, making him a unique figure in Israeli politics. His refusal to take sides in the Ukraine-Russia war further fueled his reputation as an anomaly, as he stressed his commitment to peace over supporting conflicting parties in unnecessary conflicts.