Ex Palestinian minister warns of 'complete and total destruction of Gaza'

Thousands have died in both Israel and Gaza and the toll continues to climb dramatically five days after Hamas fighters launched a surprise attack on Israel, which has responded with a massive bombardment of Gaza.

Israel said it had recaptured border areas along Gaza that had been taken by Hamas fighters in Saturday's assault, and has massed its military forces around the besieged Palestinian enclave in what appears to be preparation for a possible ground invasion.

CGTN spoke to Mustafa Barghouti, Secretary General and co-founder of the Palestinian National Initiative, which describes itself as a democratic movement of non-violent resistance to the occupation, to unpack the latest developments in the ongoing conflict.


'Longest occupation in modern history'

He highlighted that the Palestinians are not only facing strikes today, as they have been under Israeli military occupation for 56 years. 

"This is the longest occupation in modern history. We've been suffering from a system of apartheid that is described as much worse than what happened in South Africa," said Barghouti, who was also the Minister of Information in the Palestinian unity government in 2007. 

"We've also been facing the results of ethnic cleansing that was conducted against us in 1948," he added. "So Palestine is probably now the place of the greatest suffering in the world and this must change. It can only change if Israel stops these attacks, if the road to peace is opened and if de-escalation takes place immediately.

"We need to continue our struggle. And Israel clearly sends one message, which is that it understands only the language of force. But we also need very strong international pressure to stop these atrocities against the Palestinian population," urged Barghouti, who was also the Minister of Information in the Palestinian unity government in 2007. 



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'No house would be left standing'

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant have warned that Israel will launch a ground offensive soon, but it carries risks for Israel.

Barghouti cautioned against such a move, saying it will "lead to complete and total destruction of Gaza, no house would be left standing. That would be a horrible, horrible result and horrible mistake. And a ground operation could provoke a regional war. I don't think that Hezbollah in the north will stay silent."

And this could mean that Israel will engage in another war in the north, which would lead to a total explosion of the region, he warned. 

Barghouti insisted Netanyahu is playing with fire. 

"He knows that he will be dismissed because of his failure in standing up to Hamas. He's trying to protect his position by killing more and more people. He doesn't care about Palestinians or Israelis. He cares only about himself. And as such, he is the worst criminal opportunist ever," he added.


'Complete chaos'

When asked if Hamas's actions have helped advance the Palestinian cause, he told CGTN that some of the actions that happened against civilians were not necessarily committed by Hamas. "There was complete chaos. We are against attacking any civilian," he said. 

The veteran politician added: "What we need now is unity that could unify all Palestinian groups behind our struggle for freedom, for independence, for real, lasting peace, and for justice," he stressed.

"The world owes it to us to stop being so biased to the Israeli narrative and to start to see the fact that we are the ones who are under occupation," Barghouti added. "We are the ones who are oppressed by a system of apartheid by Israel, and we are the ones that are being bombarded with terrible airstrikes."

He highlighted that "Israel has the most powerful military machine in the world after the United States maybe, and they are using all of that might to attack the civilian population. Palestinian fighters have only very light weapons and very limited resources. So there is no equality in this situation."

Ex Palestinian minister warns of 'complete and total destruction of Gaza'

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