While rocket barrages continued to hit southern communities and the IDF forged on with its offensive on the Gaza Strip, the Balad Party held its primary election in Nazareth on Saturday.
Prior to casting their ballots, Knesset members Jamal Zahalka and Hanin Zoabi, alongside the party's other members, observed a moment of silence for those who were killed in the army's strikes on Gaza.
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Zoabi asserted that the Israeli operation in Gaza is a violation of international law and an infringement on the Palestinians' right to live in peace.
Balad's moment of silence (Photo: Hassan Shaalan)
"This is part of (Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu's election campaign," the Knesset member told Ynet. "It appears that it's paying off.
"We are in favor of fair peace without an occupation. Israel has military force, but no military force can crush the people's survival instinct," she added. "This is a hostile war against the Palestinians in Gaza."
Addressing the upcoming Knesset elections, Zoabi said that the recent efforts to disqualify Balad from contending are unfounded.
Strike afermath in Gaza (Photo: Reuters)
"It would completely change the rules of the game," she said. "We haven't broken the law. There is no legal basis for Balad's disqualification. There is only a politically-driven and racist base, and I don't think that there is a policy so stupid as to allow for the party's exclusion."
Zahalka, in turn, charged that the Israeli government is to blame for the deaths caused by the strikes on Gaza.
"Anyone who was killed during this last operation is a victim of the occupation, and the Israeli government is at fault," he said.
Israeli building damaged by Gaza rocket (Photo: Reuters)
He further stated that if Balad is disqualified, the party will call on the Arab sector to boycott the elections.
'We're part of Palestinian people'
Former Knesset Member Wasil Taha added that "Anyone who takes out leaders and children is destined to end up in the trash can of history… In this war, like in pervious ones, the occupiers will run away, and Gaza will remain."
Nazareth Councilman Raed Ghattas spoke out in favor of Arab-Israeli politicians' expressions of support for Gaza residents.
"We are an inseparable part of the Palestinian people," he said. "A great strike has killed many people today, and it's natural to express solidarity with our people in Gaza, who are under a blockade and are being attacked."
A member of the party, who wished not to be identified, added: "I think we should observe hours of silence in memory of the martyrs who were killed in Gaza. The government is killing residents who have nothing to do with the war."
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