Hands off Gaza!

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20 November 2012

Will the tanks of the Israeli army, once again, roll into the Gaza Strip in the coming days? No-one knows for sure, even if there has been talk of a ceasefire by Hamas, at the time of writing. But the fact that the Israeli government recalled 75,000 reservists and concentrated massive forces along the Gaza border, remains an ominous sign.

Already TV footage has shown how, since Wednesday 14 November, Israeli missiles, drones and bombs have pounded Gaza. No resemblance to the clumsy rockets used by Palestinian armed groups against Israel! In Gaza, large buildings and areas have been destroyed in just one single strike, while, in Israel, the few Palestinian rockets which managed to avoid the Israeli anti-missile shield, did not even do much material damage.

Nevertheless, according to the Israeli government and its Western backers - including Cameron's very own William Hague - the state of Israel is acting "in self-defence" by bombing the Gaza Strip. But the official casualty figures released this Monday night expose this claim for what it is - an outright lie! With 102 killed (and several hundred injured) in Gaza, as opposed to just 3 killed in Israel, there is no possible doubt - it is the Palestinians in Gaza who are under attack, not the state of Israel!

A bloody stain on the Middle East

In fact, the Palestinians have been under attack for over 64 years, since the great powers underwrote the carving up of Palestine to allow the formation of the state of Israel, back in 1948.

At the time, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were rounded up at gun point, forced out of their lands and towns, and into refugee camps scattered across the Middle East - under the pretext of providing a safe haven for the Jewish refugees fleeing Europe after World War II.

There could have been another way, however, one in which both Palestinian and Jewish people would have built together a new Palestine, pooling together their resources for the benefit of both populations. But this was not in the interests of the imperialist powers. They wanted a puppet state in the region, one which would be all the more loyal to their interests - especially the interests of their oil companies - because it was dependent on their military and economic aid.

Thus the state of Israel came into being, as a sort of regional imperialist policeman and a forward base for the West's military might against the Middle East's populations. Ever since then, the Palestinian people have been paying an exorbitant price for this great power game - by having to live in chronic poverty and being subjected to constant bloody repression and on-going wars.

Even the Israeli population has suffered from the existence of the state of Israel in its present form. Of course, this population may have enjoyed a more comfortable life than the Palestinians, without being subjected to the same bloody repression. But having to live as it does, under a permanent state of siege and under the rule of thuggish, reactionary bigots, is still like living in a prison!

A prison camp for a whole population

Today's bombings of Gaza and, maybe, tomorrow's invasion, are just another bloody exercise which has no purpose other than to inflict on the Palestinian population collective "punishment" for the acts of Hamas and other nationalist groups. The same pretext has been used time and again in the past - and as recently as 2008, when the Israeli army occupied Gaza for 22 days, killing 1,500 civilians and leaving tens of thousands homeless.

And the same pretext has been used by Israel for the blockade of Gaza over the past decade. Between 2000 and 2004, an impassable barrier was erected around the Gaza Strip, isolating it completely. Since then, while its sea coast is constantly monitored by Israeli warships, the Israeli-manned checkpoints along this barrier allow the Israeli government to turn on and off the flow of basic supplies into Gaza. Likewise, Gaza has to get most of its electricity and oil from Israel, at the discretion of the Israeli government.

Thus 1.7 million Palestinians have been locked up in a mostly arid territory just over twice as large as the city of Glasgow for more than a decade, without free access to the rest of world nor to the supplies they need. To all intents and purposes, Gaza is a prison and the Israeli government is its warden.

Such a situation has no precedent in history and there has been no shortage of "condemnations" by Western governments. Countless resolutions have been adopted by the United Nations to this effect. But none has ever been respected by Israel, nor enforced by the UN. For the so-called "international community" the interests of imperialists come, as usual, before those of the populations!