The ugly dance of death is being played out in a narrow coastal strip of land along the Mediterranean, where 1.4 million residents, all Palestinians, live in a ghetto in an area of 360 km².
Once again Israel has launched a series of air strikes on Gaza. The death toll since last Wednesday is estimated at 39 with over 17 killed on Friday. According to the BBC News, known for its pro-Israel bias, this includes two women praying at a mosque and a 4-year old boy who died from gunshot wounds.
The Independent Online has reported that 23 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers in the last week. This includes two children aged 10 and 14, and a 29-year-old mother of five who according to Palestinian eyewitnesses was shot by a sniper in the doorway of her home in Khan Yunis.
Contrary to the Zionist propaganda, according to which "Israel left Gaza" in September 2005 and the Palestinian Authority is under control, in reality Israel controls the Gaza strip’s airspace and offshore maritime access. Since June 2006 the land crossing has been closed most of the time by the Israeli state that is literally starving the population to death.
Last week the World Bank issued a report, entitled "Movement and Access Restrictions in the West Bank: Uncertainty and Inefficiency in the Palestinian Economy". The latest report is comprehensive, but there is nothing new in it. It repeats what every one following the news already knows: that the Israeli state is inflicting enormous damage on the Palestinian economy.
Five years ago, following the release of a report on the impact of Israel’s closure policy, the previous World Bank representative in the occupied territories, Nigel Roberts, suggested that any Western society would have collapsed had it undergone an economic disaster similar to that experienced in the Territories.
With the "Bantustanisation" of the Palestinian areas and the "apartheid roads" that serve the expansion of the settlements, around 50 percent of West Bank territory is not accessible to Palestinians. Most of the time trucks transporting food and raw materials cannot enter or exit at the Karni crossing. The same is true at the Rafah terminal. Meanwhile Israel continues to rob the tax and customs monies that make up approximately two-thirds of the Palestinian treasury’s revenues.
The World Bank and the other imperialist institutions may publicly issue warnings about the collapse of Palestinian society and shed crocodile tears, but they have full responsibility for the harsh conditions the Palestinians are having to suffer. They host Israeli military officers who are directly responsible for the killing of hundreds of Palestinian citizens and fervently implement the siege policy. They invite Israeli ministers who are responsible for the economic misery of the Palestinians. They stand behind the Israeli state’s brutal attempts to dispose of the elected government and at the same time they demand that Hamas should recognize the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state. In addition they stand behind the Israeli government providing arms and money to Abu Mazen and encourage him to remove by force the elected government of Hamas, thus fomenting civil war among the Palestinians.
As the Haaretz correspondent Aluf Benn wrote on May 20, "The United States is pressing Israel to help bolster security forces in the Gaza Strip that are loyal to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Major General Keith Dayton, the U.S. security coordinator, recently discussed the function of the pro-Abbas Presidential Guard and National Security forces with senior Israeli officials. The Americans believe that strengthening Abbas loyalists and deploying them in friction points along the north of the strip and Philadelphi route in Rafah will eventually improve the security situation."
The problem is that the IDF (Israel’s armed forces) chiefs have less coinfidence than the Americans in the ability of Fatah to curb Hamas. And this is a reflection of the real swing in the balance of forces in favour of Hamas in the recent period.
Prior to the Israeli attack, a bloody civil war between Fatah and Hamas had broken out once again. In these battles nearly 50 people, mostly Fatah members, have been killed since the fighting erupted last Sunday. In other words Fatah is the losing side in this civil war and by extension so are the rulers of the US and Israel who stand behind Abu Mazen. This defeat does not stop the imperialists from believing that their darling is the winner. "The forces loyal to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas fought well in the battle against Hamas men near the Karni crossing on Tuesday, contrary to reports in the Israeli media," said Western diplomatic sources familiar with the Palestinian Authority.
Doesn’t this remind us of something? Yes, it brings back memories of how the last war of Israel in Lebanon ended and also Bush’s claim that Israel had won that war. Once the ruling class starts believing in fantasies it is a sure sign that they are detached from reality like any declining ruling class in history. The defeat of the US in Iraq, of Israel in Lebanon and now their failure in Gaza that only strengthens Hamas, is causing the Arab reactionary rulers, the puppets of the imperialists, to tremble.
You do not have to be a Marxist to understand all of this. Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa on Friday made some remarks to reporters during the meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) near the Dead Sea. He blamed both Israel and the Palestinians for the situation. Similar to a person who blames both the rapist and the raped he said, "It doesn’t mean that the Palestinians aren’t responsible, because they shouldn’t have resorted to… bloodshed." He called for an end to the fighting between Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah, saying that "the battles are the result of the continuation of an economic siege on the Palestinian areas that has created a psychological atmosphere that degenerated into the present situation."
In this speech he has shown himself to be no less a cynic and a hypocrite than the other thousand capitalists and rotten politicians attending the forum. The reason he is calling for an end to the fighting is not that the suffering Palestinian masses will struggle against the imperialist order, that he serves, but because Abu Mazen’s forces are losing the battle and the instability in the region of the pro-imperialist regimes is growing daily. Contrary to his claim that "The inter-Palestinian fighting cannot be averted because the Israeli troops surround the Palestinian fighters," the simple truth is that Israel is intervening in the civil war in order to assist Abu Mazen’s forces.
Even the liberal Zionist newspaper journal Haaretz understands what is behind this speech: "In past weeks, Jordan and other U.S. Arab allies have been trying to press the case that quick progress toward reviving the peace process is vital to avert increasing militancy and instability in the Mideast." (May 19)
They can sound the alarm but the rulers of Israel are deaf to this sound. The Israeli government says that of course it is ready to make peace. However, without solving any of the questions such as the settlements, East Jerusalem, the refugees or even putting an end to the killing of the Palestinians…
According to a study published by the Haaretz on Friday, November 10, 2006, 57 unarmed Palestinian children had been killed by the IDF since June, and between June 27 and October 28 alone, 247 Palestinians, including 155 civilians (63 percent) were killed by the Israeli army. In the same period 996 Palestinians were injured, about a third, 337, were children. We do not have the official death toll since January 2007, but it must be similar to last year’s.
The Israeli Human rights organization B’Tselem published a report on December 30, 2006 which was reported by The Independent newspaper in Britain, the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces in the West Bank and Gaza Strip tripled in 2006. 660 Palestinians were killed, including 141 children. And 322 of those killed were not combatants. At the same time 23 Israelis and foreign visitors died in 2006, killed by Palestinian militants in retaliation for the massive numbers killed by Israeli forces.
On April 24 of this year, Hamas militants declared an end to the cease-fire with Israel, and for the first time since it committed itself to a cease-fire in November, the military wing of Hamas fired a barrage of rockets and mortar shells from Gaza into Israel. No one was hurt.
At that time a spokesman for the Hamas movement in Gaza, Ismail Radwan, declared that the firing of rockets was "a natural response to Israeli aggression and violations of the truce in the West Bank and Gaza Strip." This followed the previous weekend, when Israeli forces killed up to nine Palestinians, mostly militants in the West Bank..
Hamas has largely adhered to self-imposed cease-fires since February 2005, but small groups like the Islamic Jihad have continued firing rockets at Israel almost every day, and the Israeli propaganda has demagogically blamed Hamas for it.
On May 17, following the firing of Kassam missiles on Sderot, the Israeli army once again attacked Gaza claiming that this attack was an attempt to end the firing of the Kassam missiles. This however, is not the reason but the excuse, in exactly the same manner as the three kidnapped soldiers in July 2006 were not the reason for the Israeli attack on Lebanon but only the excuse.
The war on Gaza is the continuation of the war in Lebanon that was part of the same imperialist manoeuvres including the war on Iraq. They are wars reflecting the US imperialist drive to impose their interests on the region. In July 2006 the Israeli generals attacked Hezbollah to assist the Seniora puppet government in Lebanon, and in May 2007 Israel attacks Gaza to assist the darling of the imperialists Abu Mazen. "His majesty" the… President, has provoked civil war among the Palestinians once again under the direction of the imperialists including the Israeli government, but he is losing out badly to Hamas fighters.
The reason Abu Mazen and his imperialist backers are losing is because like in Lebanon the masses understand that behind the attack on Hamas is the attempt to make them give up on any hope of being free of imperialist oppression.
Unfortunately Hamas is not a revolutionary leadership that can lead the Palestinians to a victory. Instead of uniting the masses and calling on the working class in Israel and in the Arab states to topple the rotten regimes, it attacks the poor people of Sderot, who find themselves in a horrible trap. On the one hand they are used as living shields to cover the criminal policy of the Israeli government and on the other hand they suffer from the Kassams located one kilometre away. If they could they would flee Sderot, but they do not have the money to escape this town. With the money they would get for selling their homes they could not even buy a toilet in Tel-Aviv, Jerusalem or Haifa The Israeli government is not even bothering to build shelters for them or get the poor children the help they need to deal with the traumas caused by years of facing the Kassams.
According to CBS, in the year 2000, in the city there were 6,301 salaried workers and 367 self-employed. In the same year the average monthly wage for a salaried worker in the city was ILS 3,845 (ILS 2,665 for females). The exchange rate stands at four shekels to the dollar and Israel is one of the most expensive countries in the world. Since 2000 their situation has became even worse.
Unemployment in Sderot is officially 20% but in reality it is much higher. More than 50 % of the population is made up of people from Ethiopia or from the former Soviet Union after it collapsed and who escaped to Israel with the hope of finding a better life, not hell. These people are potentially the allies of the people in Gaza and the Kassams only serve to push them into the hands of the reactionaries who used them so cynically.
What the people of Sderot and Gaza need is a revolutionary leadership of the working class struggling for a real future in the form of a Socialist Federation of the Middle East that would replace the power of the capitalists – who use and abuse them and who have led them into a dead end – with the power of the working class Arabs and Jews, Iranians and Turks and of all the other nations in the region. Within such a Federation we would build a socialist federated state of the Palestinians and the Israelis. Only such a state would be capable of solving the national question created by the imperialists and their servants who have closed us in a bloody death trap.
- Israel and Lebanon: What next? by Yossi Schwartz (30 Aug. 2006)
- The fiasco of the Israeli offensive by Greg Oxley (23 Aug. 2006)
- Lebanon: A kind of a ceasefire by Yossi Schwartz (23 Aug. 2006)
- Ground offensive in Lebanon — Israeli ruling class faces dilemma by Yossi Schwartz (5 Aug. 2006)
- The past of Lebanon weighs heavily on what is happening today by Yossi Schwartz (5 Aug. 2006)
- Israel prepares to invade Lebanon by Greg Oxley (20 Jul. 2006)
- Stephen Harper defends Israel’s right to kill Canadian family and innocents in Lebanon by Camilo Cahis (18 Jul. 2006)