By Cillian Gillespie
Last summer we watched in horror and disgust as the Israeli state launched yet another murderous assault on the besieged people of Gaza; a population of 1.8 million living in the world’s largest open air prison.
“Mowing the lawn in Gaza”
Statistics can’t give us a full sense of the scale of horror and human suffering visited upon on the people of Gaza but the picture they do give us is horrific. 54 days of unrelenting onslaught by Israeli Defence Force (IDF) resulted in the deaths of over 2,200 Gazans – 70% of whom were civilians and 556 of these were children. 18,000 homes were destroyed or were made uninhabitable leaving 100,000 homeless and $4 billion worth of damage was directly made to civilian infrastructure.
This is what the Israeli government shamefully and cynically calls “mowing the lawn in Gaza”; the brutal and indiscriminate cutting down of human life, infrastructure and buildings by its army, airforce and navy. Much of Gaza is now a wasteland of rubble brought about by the destruction and scale of the assault, little reconstruction has taken place as both the Israeli government and Egyptian military dictatorship refuse to allow the necessary materials into the strip.
Collective punishment of a captive people
The less visible but nonetheless shocking and tragic scars of the war lie in the enormous trauma felt by the Gazan population particularly amongst its children. According to a recent report issued by charity “Save the children”, seven out of ten children suffer from regular nightmares, 75% of suffer from irregular bed wettings and 89% suffer consistent feelings of fear.
The Israeli state’s propaganda that it was waging its war on Gaza as a simple act of self defence from the rocket attacks from Hamas is a lie. Israeli soldiers who served in the war have testified to the NGO (Non-Governmental Organisation) “Breaking the Silence” that they had been ordered to target Palestinians regardless if they were military combatants or not.
Israel’s perennial military attacks and the siege of this small strip of land are a collective punishment of its Palestinian population for being ruled by the Hamas regime. A regime that, despite its right wing reactionary character, is unwilling to submit and do its bidding, unlike the corrupt and dictatorial Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.
Mass struggle needed against Israeli state
The Socialist Party fully supports the right of the Palestinians in Gaza Strip and the West Bank to engage in mass struggle based on armed self defence to resist the besiegement, occupation and colonisation of their land by the Israeli state. Such a struggle could be based on the methods of the first intifada when a mass, democratically organised uprising against Israeli occupation exploded from below in December 1987
Neither Fatah or Hamas have been willing to embrace the traditions of that heroic resistance to Israeli state oppression. The latter have engaged in the futile and counter-productive methods of indiscriminately firing rockets into Israel which have been used by the Israeli government as a pretext to justify its onslaught of Gaza.
A mass struggle of the Palestinian people could make an appeal to Palestinians and Jewish workers within Israel to join them in a struggle in a struggle to overthrow the Israeli ruling class. For many Palestinians living under occupation and siege the latter may not seem like an obvious force that can be won to its side.
For a democratic & socialist solution
However there are real class and social divisions within Israeli Jewish society as illustrated by the recent protests by Ethiopian Jews against the discrimination they face. Successive Israeli government have not only brought about conflict and war but massive inequality and deprivation for Israeli working class people.
A just and democratic solution that equally upholds the rights of both Jews and Palestinians can never come into existence as long as Israel’s rulers remain in power and capitalism and imperialism dominates the region. This is why Socialist Struggle Movement, the sister organisation of the Socialist Party in Israel / Palestine, argues for two democratic and socialist Palestinian and Israeli states alongside each other based on free, open and commonly agreed borders with the rights of minorities guaranteed.