FT-CI Statement - End the Israeli attacks on Palestine! For an immediate end to Operation Protective Edge!
End the Israeli attacks on Palestine!
For an immediate end to Operation Protective Edge!
After a seven-day bombardment of the civilian population of Gaza resulting in a death toll of 172 (36 of them children) and over 1,500 injured, the right-wing government of Israel is continuing Operation Protective Edge while assessing the ceasefire proposed by the military-backed Egyptian government.
On the night of July 7-8 the Israeli army launched a brutal onslaught on the Gaza Strip. In just two days it launched more than 400 missiles, destroying more buildings and premises than during Operation Pillar of Defence in November 2012 that lasted eight days.
The threat of a ground invasion of Gaza, which Israel claims is necessary to stop Hamas’s rocket attacks, has provoked the exodus of tens of thousands of Palestinians from the northern border area of Gaza. Many of the refugees have taken shelter in schools and UN buildings, although there is no guarantee that they will be safe because more that 50 UN buildings have already been damaged despite the fact that Israel has the exact coordinates of their location.
The killing of three young Israelis was used by Israel as a pretext for attacking the Gaza Strip, where 1.8 million people live. Israel claims that the killings were committed by Hamas militants, although no organisation has claimed responsibility. However, the kidnapping and murder of a 16-year-old Palestinian by a group of fascist settlers has been confirmed. Both events are the result of the long-term occupation of Palestine by Israel, which now makes the hypocritical claim that it is engaged in defensive actions against the launching of missiles from Gaza against Israeli cities. It is important to mention that after the disappearance of the three young Israelis, Netanyahu launched a series of selective missile attacks and raids on targets in the West Bank, resulting in several deaths and 400 arrests, most of them Hamas militants. These events were followed by big mobilisations in the West bank that were repressed by the Zionist army.
The true motivation for the attacks
This military escalation took place after the attempt to re-establish a ‘peace process’ failed, a process that Israel – with the approval of the US and the EU – was never prepared to continue, saying that it wouldn’t negotiate with terrorists.
The decision to attack Gaza was taken after the Netanyahu cabinet agreed to follow the strategy of the extreme right-wing grouping headed by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the Israel Our Home party. Lieberman’s party is the voice of the settlers and a strong defender of taking a hard line towards Palestinians. The tensions inside the government reflect the rivalry between the Likud party of Prime Minister Netanyahu and Lieberman’s party over who wins the votes of the extreme right-wing sections of the electorate.
However, despite the discussions and arguments in the government, Lieberman and Netanyahu do not differ on the key points regarding the oppressive, colonial and racist policies against the Palestinian people and the maintenance of the exclusive Jewish character of the State of Israel. The extreme nature of thinking within the Israeli government can be seen by the fact that the Deputy Defence Minister, Danny Danon, openly calls for 60 % of the West Bank to be annexed by Israel.
In the short term, this offensive has the aim of weakening Hamas and other radicalised factions in the Palestinian resistance, and destroying the Fatah-Hamas national unity government.
The territorial and political partition of the Palestinian territories took place in 2007 following the failure of Fatah’s attempt – supported by the USA and Israel – to overthrow the elected Hamas government. Since then Israel, with the complicity of its imperialist allies, has been maintaining a criminal blockade of Gaza in the hope that economic shortages and isolation would bring down the Hamas government. Meanwhile, in the West Bank the Fatah government led by Mahmoud Abbas has collaborated more and more with the American and Israeli governments. This division affected the Palestinians and facilitated the political offensive by the Zionist government, which extended the siege by expanding its settlements and building a wall that annexed even more Palestinian land.
The recent reunification of the two main Palestinian factions and Obama’s policy of opening a dialogue with Iran has helped persuade Netanyahu to go on the offensive.
For Israel the agreement between Fatah and Hamas is unacceptable, although it is a result of the weakness of both parties and does not imply a progressive development for the Palestinian cause. The set-back for the Arab Spring and in particular for the revolutionary process in Egypt has left Hamas with few allies, and they have been forced to accept the conditions imposed by Abbas in order to avoid isolation. In fact, there are no Hamas ministers in the Palestinian government. As for Fatah, its scandalous collaboration with the Israeli occupation was making it unpopular. The interests of different sectors played a role in the reconciliation, but are also factors that make it weak.
In this context, the differences between Fatah and Hamas have started to emerge again and, on July 10, Mahmoud Abbas said to Hamas: “What have you achieved by firing rockets? It is better to fight with wisdom and politics.” This is precisely what Israel aims to provoke in order to deepen its offensive and make the most of the isolation of the struggle of the Palestinian people.
Netanyahu also knows that his government has the unconditional support of the United States, which once more has spoken in favour of Israel’s ‘right to defend itself’ at the Security Council of the UN, while claiming at the same time to be ‘willing to facilitate a cessation of hostilities’, which in turn gives Israel the opportunity to continue the attacks. For their part, the European powers have limited themselves to calling for a cease-fire, and by joining those who condemn ‘Palestinian violence’ have given legitimacy to the crimes committed by the Zionist state.
Another chapter in a long colonising offensive
This is a new episode in the continuing colonising offensive by Israel, which has used state terror in the form of collective punishment and aerial bombardment against the civil population.
This criminal policy has eroded Israel’s legitimacy in the eyes of international public opinion, including among intellectuals, artists and a broad layer of people of Jewish origin, who challenge the view that to criticise the state of Israel is to be anti-Semitic and do not believe that Israel is the victim of ‘terrorists’ and is therefore acting in self-defence. On the contrary, they think that Israeli strategy is to maintain the occupation and an apartheid regime against the people of Palestine. Even minority circles inside Israel itself question the military offensive, despite the right-wing climate.
For these reasons, thousands of protesters have demonstrated outside Israeli embassies in several countries to condemn the attacks against the Palestinian population. It is necessary to increase the mobilisation against Israeli attacks on Gaza, call for an end to the blockade that condemns the Palestinian people to starvation, and give our solidarity to Palestinian workers, women and youth in their struggle against oppression.
A revolutionary strategy for the Palestinian struggle
Revolutionaries defend the democratic right of the Palestinian people to national self-determination and to have their own state – a right that has been denied by the imperialist powers and the state of Israel.
It has been 20 years since the American-backed Oslo agreements, but it is clear that the so-called ‘peace process’ that was intended to lead to a ‘two-state solution’ has only served to deepen the Israeli colonisation of the occupied Palestinian territories and to increase the misery of its people.
If a Palestinian state had emerged under these conditions, it would have consisted of unconnected territories, surrounded by a massive border wall, under the vigilance of the Israeli army – not an independent state but something resembling the Bantustans created during the apartheid regime in South Africa.
The Fatah leadership has capitulated to the colonisers and imperialism, becoming an agent of order to serve Israeli strategy. It is discredited because in spite of its capitulations it hasn’t gained any concessions from the Zionist state. The Hamas strategy of relying on the support of various reactionary governments in the region and seeking to impose a religious character to the Palestinian lands has not been a solution either.
Israel is an artificial state, based on the ethnic cleansing of the native Palestinian people, millions of whom are now confined to live in refugee camps in neighbouring countries like Jordan and Lebanon, or crowded together in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Since its creation in 1948, and in particular following the Six-Day War, Israel has become an enclave of American imperialism in order to reinforce the latter’s dominance in the region.
Israel treats its minority Israeli-Arab population as second-class citizens and fiercely opposes the return of the Palestinian refugees because this would challenge the exclusively Jewish character of the Zionist state. For that reason we defend the right of return of all Palestinian refugees who have been expelled from their land by the Zionist colonisation and its continuing military occupation and expansion of the settlements. We condemn the current attacks on Gaza, and we oppose the two-state solution and the reactionary strategy of the Islamist leadership to establish a theocratic state. We are for the dismantling of the State of Israel as an imperialist and colonialist enclave and the building of a free and unitary state of Palestine on all its historic territories, where Palestinians and Israelis can live together in peace – a workers’ and socialist Palestine, which can also be a step towards a workers’ revolution throughout the Middle East.