Halt Israel's offensive against Gaza!
AS we publish this article, the death toll amongst the population of Gaza has passed the 100 mark and Israel has warned the population of Beit Lahia, Beit Hanoun, and Absan al-Saghira to evacuate their townships and move to the west or south of the Gaza strip.
This is a threat of imminent invasion. 40,000 Israeli Defence Force personnel have been called up and 20,000 deployed into the Gaza border region. A full-scale attack could be imminent. Spokespersons, as well as government figures, have announced that if this occurs their objective will be to wipe out Hamas for good. This could not be done except at the cost of enormous loss of life. This would be a genocidal act that would confirm once again the ineradicably racist character of the Zionist settler state.
To aid the Israelis, the newly elected military dictator in Egypt, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, has closed the Rafah border crossing and is colluding with Israel by closing the tunnels through which supplies and weapons reach Gaza's defenders. Trying his best to wipe out the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, he would be happy enough to see the Israelis liquidate Hamas as long as he can deny responsibility and repress any mass expressions of solidarity with the Palestinians at home.
The Zionists sought a pretext for their new offensive on Gaza in the killing of three teenage Israeli West Bank settlers by their Palestinians kidnappers, which, in turn, led to the burning to death by vigilantes of a 16 year old Palestinian teenager, Mohammed Abu Khdeirs. The Israeli army have arrested over 600 Palestinians and brutally mistreated many of them since the kidnapping of three teenagers in the West Bank
Such vigilante activity and racist incitement is increasingly common in Israeli society. It immediately led to angry protests by West Bank youth, that turned into mass demonstrations by early July and even led to street fighting in Israel itself, mostly by young Palestinians. This lasted several days and fears of a Third Intifada were expressed in the media.
All attempts to defuse the situation, including by Hamas, came to nothing because of Israeli, rather than Palestinian, intransigence. The Israeli Government intervened brutally against the demonstrators, tightening its occupation of the West Bank.
Limited rocket attacks from Gaza, none of which led to any Israeli deaths, provided the pretext for threatening a ground invasion. Premier Netanyahu instructed the army to “take off the kid gloves". Not to be outdone, the right wing Minister of Foreign Affairs, Avigdor Lieberman, called for an invasion of the tiny territory in which two million Palestinians are cooped up in appalling conditions.
On the night of 7 to 8 July, the Israeli army launched a devastating bombing offensive against Gaza. As always, this was ostensibly directed against the "terrorism" of Hamas, which supposedly makes impossible a "peaceful solution" with Israel.
The prospect of reconciliation developing between Fatah and Hamas over the past few months was a thorn in the side of the Israeli Government; and for obvious reasons. The division of the Palestinian resistance has been the justification to the UN, EU and US for maintaining the military occupation and continuing to expand “illegal settlements” in the West Bank, whilst keeping Gaza as an open-air concentration camp. Israel had also clearly been dismayed by the Egyptian Revolution and last year's election of President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, who relaxed controls of the Gaza border.
For more than two decades, successive Israeli Governments have torpedoed each and every peace solution that could have forced them to suspend, if not halt, the remorseless expansion of the settlements into the ever-shrinking Palestinian “entity”. The Zionists' aim is quite simply to make any sort of Palestinian state, except an archipelago of tiny Bantustans, impossible. The more right wing forces would like to clear the Left Bank and Gaza of Palestinians altogether.
Harassed and humiliated on a daily basis by the viciously aggressive settlers, the inhabitants of the indigenous Palestinian communities resist or resort to desperate acts of revenge, only to meet racist repression by the Zionist state many times harsher than their actions.
This recurrent pattern clearly shows that the "two-state solution", hypocritically touted by the USA and EU, which not only the corrupt Fatah in the West Bank but also the Islamist Hamas have indicated they would be willing to accept, is a utopia. Trying to achieve it leads only to an ever worse situation for the Palestinians. Even if it could ever be established, it would create two economically unviable and disarmed enclaves, still under Israeli control. The Israelis, however, always come up with new conditions that they know the Palestinians cannot accept; the latest being not just the recognition of the right of Israel to exist but its character as a Jewish state.
The mass revolt of the Palestinians at the beginning of July showed the potential for the new Intifada the Israelis fear more than any rockets. It would be the right way to develop further resistance. It would allow the masses on the West Bank, and Palestinians in Israel, to throw their numbers into the struggle and expose the Zionist state for what it is; not a democratic home for “a people without a land” but an inherently undemocratic incursion, meant to deprive a real people of their own land.
Of course, the military defence of Gaza against the Zionist attacks by Hamas or any other Palestinian organisation, is completely legitimate and must be supported by socialists and anti-imperialists worldwide. But, unfortunately, Iranian rockets alone will not force the Zionist state to its knees. To do this, needs a political mass movement, an insurgency of Palestinian workers, farmers and young people in the occupied territories and in Israel itself. Such a movement would also need to set itself the task of breaking the unity between the Israeli ruling class and the working class and the youth and, indeed, all those who are ashamed and revolted by the increasing racism, so like anti-Semitism, directed at the Palestinians.
The Palestinian resistance needs international solidarity from the masses in the Arab countries and, above all, in Egypt. Socialists there must demand an end to al-Sisi’s shameful collaboration with the Zionist state and unconditional military and logistical support for the Palestinian resistance; Open the border crossings! The duty of solidarity also applies to the left and the workers' movement in the United States and Europe. Here, too, socialists must demand the ending of all the support to the Israeli regime, in particular, the arms sales and military cooperation.
Trade unions, student and youth organisations, all left and labour parties, all progressive and democratic forces, should totally condemn the Israeli attack and express their unequivocal support for the Palestinian resistance to it. We strongly reject the argument that opposition to the State of Israel and its racist policy of ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians is anti-Semitic. In fact, this would also be an important support for, and solidarity with, the courageous minority of anti-Zionist forces in Israel itself.