Israel wages war on Gaza

Smoke over Gaza city, late Wednesday

At least twenty people in Gaza are dead after Israel unleashed a new wave of bombings reminiscent of the 2009 war. Once again, pictures of mutilated bodies are spreading across the internet, while Israeli officials do their usual schtick about “self-defenc”e and “Palestinian rocket fire”, calling their assault “Operation Pillar of Defence”.

Lies. The 4 year old baby girl killed last night was no threat. The victims aren’t illegal Israeli settlers in Sderot who live on stolen land; they’re the Palestinians who’ve had their land stolen, their lives destroyed, and their loved ones killed. Israel is not defending itself from terror; it is the main perpetrator of terror.

But the reality is that Israel doesn’t need to be threatened to commit atrocities. Murder is written into the country’s DNA. Every so often it gets bored with simply strangling Gaza to death, and decides to lash out and kill a few hundred people.

Among the dead are Hamas military chief Ahmad Jaabari, leader of the Al-Qassam Brigades, as well as the brother of the co-founder of Hamas, Mahmoud al-Zahar. Israel also tried to take out Ismail Haniyeh, leader of Hamas’s political wing, and current Prime Minister of Palestine. This time, they failed. But they have declared their ongoing desire to “eliminate” him – diplomacy, Israeli style.

According to tweets from inside the Territory, ships have been shelling the ground, F16s and drones have been flying above them all day. Hamas has announced a state of emergency. The Israeli Security Cabinet has given the IDF permission to draft reservists and expand the Gaza operation. Israeli National Security Minister Avi Dichter has said: “We have no intention to end this round of fighting and suffer more hits in the next.”

It is clear that the Palestinians must respond. What is needed is a national intifada, an uprising of the poor and dispossessed Palestinians who have little to lose after years of occupation. This could trigger a renewal and deepening of the revolutionary processes in Egypt, forcing a confrontation with Israel. Time will tell whether Hamas has the orientation to organise such a movement, one which would necessarily challenge the corrupt Palestinian Authority that they have become increasingly friendly with in recent times.

Those celebrating the victory of Obama last week should know that the US government came out stridently last night: “We strongly condemn the barrage of rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel.” Yes, you read that right. They strongly condemn the handful of crappy rockets fired from Gaza. There’s more: “We regret the death and injury of innocent Israeli and Palestinian civilians caused by the ensuing violence.” Not one Israeli has died yet. Not even one confirmed injury. This is disgusting, barbaric, and standard practice for Obama.

The Israeli decision to launch the offensive comes at a peculiar juncture in domestic politics. Just like the war in 2009, it comes a month or two before an Israeli election, scheduled for January next year. While many voters are unhappy with Netanyahu’s neoliberal economic policies, support for bombing Gaza is high among Israeli Jews.

This isn’t just any election. Three weeks ago Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed that his right wing Likud party was merging with the party of the ultra-nationalist Avigdor Lieberman. Lieberman is a man who has threatened to murder Palestinian members of the Israeli parliament, comparing them to collaborators with the Nazis. He has also repeatedly called for the deportation of Palestinians living inside Israel. His overall views are best summed up as fascist.

This new war on Gaza, if it indeed does become a full-scale invasion, will be just the beginning. The Palestinians have reportedly retaliated with several rockets, but as always they are heavily outgunned. They have support, however, across the Middle East and throughout the world.

Of particular importance is the news that the African National Congress (ANC) – which led the struggle against apartheid in South Africa – recently voted overwhelmingly to endorse the Global Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment campaign. Current ANC National Chairperson and former South African deputy president Baleka Mbete said Israel was actually “far worse than Apartheid South Africa”. This stance should provide further strength to those fighting for justice – both within Palestine and globally.

[Reposted from SA.org.au]

Demonstrations:

Wellington: Emergency rally in solidarity with Gaza. Cuba Mall (by the Bucket Fountain) from noon, Friday 16 November.

Auckland: Public rally, 2pm, Aotea square, Saturday 17th November

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