Gaza and Beyond

This is the seventh day of “Operation Days of Penitence” that has killed at least 70 Palestinians, many of them women and children. This is the largest operation in the Gaza Strip in the four years since the beginning of this Intifada.

As I write these lines an Israeli air strike on the Jabalya refugee camp in north Gaza has killed at least three Palestinian fighters, including a senior Hamas leader. This is the seventh day of “Operation Days of Penitence” that has killed at least 70 Palestinians, many of them women and children. This is the largest operation in the Gaza Strip in the four years since the beginning of this Intifada. At least 2000 Israeli occupation troops backed by 200 tanks and helicopter gun ships participated in the raids.

The Israeli government used the terrorist attacks of Hamas during the last two weeks as a pretext for the well planned operation. On September 23, a female suicide bomber killed two policemen in Jerusalem and injured 30 others. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack and said it was in revenge for the assassination of its leaders in Nablus and Jenin.

On September 27 Israeli security sources acknowledged that Israel was involved in the assassination of a senior Hamas official in the Syrian capital of Damascus. Hamas vowed to strike Israeli targets in revenge for the killing of Iz a-Din al Sheikh Khalil in a car-bomb blast.

On September 28 five Qassam rockets were fired against Sderot and the nearby farming communities inside Israel. Another Qassam attack killed two small children in Sderot and on September 29 the large-scale operation against the town of Beit Hanun and the Jabalya refugee camp to the west began. This is the 12th IDF operation in the northern Gaza Strip in the past three months. The onslaught has focused on the northern part of the coast, home to 1.3 million Palestinians.

The Israeli government claims of course that the operation, following the shelling again of Sderot, is meant to prevent the firing of Qassam rockets against Israeli targets in the western Negev. In reality this operation is part of Sharon’s plans in Gaza.

Sharon himself made it very clear: “Evacuating the Gaza Strip is a plan that will be carried out and all orders have been given to ensure that there will be no fire at the time of the evacuation and I believe not after that either,” Sharon told Army Radio.

So far at least 70 resistance fighters and civilians have died in the raids.

To understand what is behind this operation it is enough to know that Hamas has a very strong social base in Gaza. The leaders of Hamas made it clear that they are ready to participate in a puppet government following the Israeli evacuation. Sharon however so far has refused, as he has Mohammed Dahlan in mind. Sharon cannot get a puppet government similar to the Iraqi government which would exclude Hamas without smashing its social base.

The leaders of Hamas have provided Jerusalem and Washington all possible proof to show their willingness to participate in the Pax Americana-Israeliana. It was for this reason they did not act after the assassination of their main leaders in Gaza. They have now realized that they have failed and have gone back to their terrorist actions aimed at innocent civilians. Clearly these terrorist acts are not aimed at liberating the Palestinians, but they are pressure tactics to force Israel and the US to accept Hamas as a partner in their overall order. They gave Sharon the excuse he needed to send the Army once again to Gaza to smash the social base of Hamas.

What Israel is doing is massive state terror. Thus state terror and individual terror are two sides of the same mechanism of controlling the masses.

Sharon believes that by using state terror he will break the will of the Palestinians in Gaza. However this is the same reactionary dream that Sharon had in Lebanon in 1982. The Israeli state is very strong but it is not strong enough to force the people of Gaza to submit to the wishes of Sharon. In the meantime the Israeli army is killing many civilians.

Aljazeera’s correspondent in Gaza, Samir Abu Shamala, reported that a mute Palestinian civilian was shot in the head and killed by Israeli occupation soldiers in the Jabalya refugee camp on Sunday afternoon. A Palestinian teenager died of his injuries after being seriously wounded in an Israeli air strike on the Jabalya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip on Sunday, Palestinian hospital sources said. Two more Palestinian teenagers died of their injuries after being seriously wounded by Israeli army gunfire in Jabalya, Palestinian medics said.

The main difference between 1982 and today is that the relationship of class forces is changing in the world against the imperialist brutality of Bush and Sharon. Sharon may think that he will get better results than the Americans in Iraq, but he is going to be surprised. Israel is facing stiff resistance in Gaza. So far two Israeli soldiers have been killed and eight injured since the operation began.

The fighters against the Israeli army are members of the Popular Resistance Committees, an umbrella group of Palestinian resistance groups fighting Israeli occupation.

In the West Bank city of Ram Allah, Prime Minister Ahmad Quraya urged resistance groups “to think about the higher national interest and not give Israel excuses to continue the aggression against our people in Gaza.” In other words he wants them to surrender without a fight.

But Palestinian president Yasir Arafat, who has now very little to lose, referred to Israel’s campaign as a “monstrous, criminal, inhumane attack on our people.”

Nevertheless, his bankrupt program is leading him to empty rhetoric: “I call on the entire world to act immediately and rapidly to stop the criminal and racist” attack, he stated. Who does he have in mind – the US, the UN, or the European imperialists? They all helped the Iraqi people a lot, is it not so Mr. President?

Similarly the rulers of Iran, afraid of an Israeli attack, joined the chorus of international condemnation accusing Israel of committing genocide in the Gaza Strip and called for international intervention to halt the latest operation, the state news agency IRNA reported.

“The genocide of Palestinians and violations of international laws by the Israelis means that action from the international community is needed to defend the defenseless people of Palestine,” foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi was quoted as saying.

“The brutal slaughter of innocent people in the Gaza Strip has further exposed the inhuman nature of the Zionist regime’s leaders to the public.”

These are all empty words that are not going to help the Palestinians. The brutality of the Israeli army like the American-British occupation of Iraq is the reflection of the period we are living through. It is a period of revolutions, counter-revolutions and wars. The only thing the rulers of the capitalist system can bring us is more barbarism.

What is necessary is for the international labor movement to stand up against the brutal Israeli repression. What is necessary is for the labor movement and the young activists in Israel to break with the program of “peace” based on the imperialist and capitalist order and act on a program of the working class independent from the capitalists. What is needed is a program, the demands of which will unite the workers, the youth and the poor and bring down Sharon’s government on the road to a workers’ power.

Only under working class power can the national question of the Palestinians and the Israelis be solved. What is necessary is the transformation of society in the entire Middle East as part of a world revolution.

The solution for the endless blood bath is not another pie in the sky in the form of another illusion in a capitalist solution but a Socialist Federation of the Middle East where all nations, including the Palestinians and the Israelis, will have their own national autonomies.