BREAK THE SIEGE OF GAZA!
Aug. 4 — The world movement in solidarity with Palestine must join hands in demanding the complete lifting of the brutal Israeli siege of Gaza and full reconstruction.
Whether the 72-hour ceasefire announced by Israel and Hamas holds or not, one thing is sure: The Palestinian people have heroically defended their right to exist as a nation and to choose their own representatives.
As so often with people living under harsh oppression, their courage and steadfastness have cost them dearly. But they have also earned respect and support around the world while Israel, a brutal colonial settler state intent on dispersing or annihilating the indigenous people, has earned widespread outrage and condemnation for its crimes against the people of Gaza.
This is what the leaders of Israel — and their backers in the U.S. ruling class, government and military — cannot suppress, even as the corporate media try to equate their crimes with the justified resistance by the Palestinians.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went for the world’s record in the Big Lie when he told his troops, just before announcing the ceasefire, that Israel had “no intention of attacking the residents of Gaza — it is Hamas that is attacking them and denying them humanitarian aid.” (Guardian [UK], Aug. 4)
But the facts speak for themselves. Over the last month, Israel has killed almost 1,900 people in Gaza, 80 percent of them civilians, according to U.N. estimates. In that period, Israel’s casualties were 64 soldiers and three civilians.
Even with U.S. backing, Israel could not erase what the world already knew. Civilians, especially children, have been a deliberate target of the Israeli military: four little boys blown up on a beach by a guided missile from an Israeli ship; children blasted while playing on swings in a U.N. refugee shelter; and on Aug. 3, a U.N. school in Rafah, packed with refugees, hit by an Israeli missile strike.
The Guardian described the scene: “A hospital near the site of Sunday’s attack, in the southern town of Rafah, was overwhelmed with the dead and injured. Children’s bodies were stored in an ice-cream freezer as the morgue ran out of space.”
The overall destruction has been enormous: “The UN warned of a rapidly unfolding health disaster in Gaza, with hospital and other medical services, overwhelmed with injured people, on the verge of collapse. A third of hospitals, 14 primary healthcare clinics and 29 ambulances had been damaged in the fighting; at least five medical staff had been killed on duty; and more than 40 percent of medical staff were unable to get to places of work, it said.
“Critical supplies of medicines and other supplies were almost depleted, and damage and destruction of power supplies had left hospitals dependent on unreliable back-up generators.”
Remember all the boasting by Israel that it could “pinpoint” its targets with utmost precision? Now it wants to say that these attacks were “mistakes,” or even that the Palestinians were killing their own people. Again, the facts speak for themselves.
Almost half a million Gazans — out of 1.8 million total — have been displaced from their homes, many of which are now nothing but rubble. Israel targeted the main power station, leaving the people without not only energy but water. This is nothing short of attempted genocide of the Palestinians as a people.
But the Palestinians’ will to resist and their political infrastructure have not been broken. After every cruel rain of death from the sky, the people pour into the streets to rush the survivors to hospitals and to bury and honor their dead. And, through their elected representatives from Hamas, they vow to struggle not just for a temporary truce but for an end to the blockade imposed on Gaza by Israel and for the right to live in their own country, Palestine.
Israeli apartheid not viable
The Israeli apartheid regime is not viable, just as its counterpart in South Africa could not last forever. But, just as with South Africa, the regime depends on U.S. support, both military and diplomatic, to buffer it from world criticism and supply it with the weapons to maintain its rule.
While world condemnation of Israel’s monstrous crimes against the Palestinians in Gaza was reaching a crescendo, Washington quietly delivered more arms to Israel.
“Even as the White House harshly criticized the Israeli strike on the school, the Pentagon confirmed that last Friday it had resupplied the Israeli military with ammunition under a longstanding military aid agreement. [President Barack] Obama swiftly signed a bill Monday giving Israel $225 million in emergency aid for its Iron Dome antimissile system.” (New York Times, Aug. 4)
A common theme in the U.S. commercial media has been that most Arab states support Israel against Hamas. Notice the word “states.” Not the people living in those states.
The Arab states that support Israel are mainly the Saudi monarchy, the repressive emirates and the coup regime in Egypt. Last year, in its grab for power, the Egyptian military gunned down in the streets hundreds of unarmed supporters of the elected government and has since stuffed the jails with journalists and political figures who criticize its rule.
It is Washington, particularly Secretary of State John Kerry, that has put Egyptian coup leader Gen. Abdel Fatah al-Sisi in the position of “mediating” between Israel and the elected Hamas leaders of Gaza.
Israel was already pulling out its ground forces when it announced the ceasefire on Aug. 4. While the casualties they had sustained were nothing like the carnage wreaked on the Palestinians, the death toll among Israeli soldiers was more than five times that of its last war against Gaza.
The Israeli pullout also came after anti-war demonstrations throughout the West Bank had been violently repressed, including a march of tens of thousands from Ramallah to East Jerusalem, with at least 10 Palestinian demonstrators killed by police and soldiers, according to the Guardian. Some Israeli soldiers and reservists have refused to fight, and an Israeli soldier was shot in the stomach near the main campus of Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Thus, the rulers in Tel Aviv cannot keep their war against Gaza from coming home.
From Venezuela, President Nicolás Maduro offered to transport injured or orphaned children from Gaza and offer them medical and whatever other care is necessary. Bolivia’s President Evo Morales officially declared Israel “a terrorist state.” El Salvador, Chile, Peru, Brazil and Ecuador all recalled their ambassadors, while Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Uruguay and Paraguay suspended the Free Trade Agreement talks.
As sympathy for the Palestinians grows around the world, so must an understanding of why Israel is so important to the imperialist rulers of the U.S. Behind it all lies the role that the Israeli Zionist ruling class plays as protectors of Western imperialist economic interests in the Middle East. Keeping control over the vast oil riches of the region — especially the huge profits they bring to U.S. corporations and banks — underlies the strategic thinking that has made Israel one of the largest recipients of U.S. military aid in the world.
The Palestinian struggle, just like that of the Vietnamese, is unmasking U.S. hypocrisy about freedom and democracy. This can only serve to advance the struggle of workers and oppressed peoples everywhere.