By Sara Flounders
July 30, 2014
July 28 — The crimes are staggering, the destruction massive. Israel is creating a 3-kilometer strip of scorched earth around Gaza City that eats up about 44 percent of the Gaza Strip, already the most densely populated place on earth. (U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs)
After more than three weeks of ground attacks, Israel has killed more than 1,000 Palestinians in Gaza using aerial bombardment, tank rounds and prohibited weapons. By United Nations estimates, 80 percent of the dead are civilians. UNICEF says 226 children have been killed and 1,516 injured.
Whole neighborhoods have been reduced to rubble. Some 3,175 homes have been destroyed, along with five hospitals and six clinics. Sixty-four mosques and two churches were bombed. The al-Wafa Geriatric Hospital was completely leveled.
Doctors charge that Israel may be using weapons such as white phosphorous, flechettes (small pointed metal darts in tank shells) and Dense Inert Metal Explosives (DIME). “The injuries we receive are unfamiliar to us,” said Muhammad Duaidar, a doctor in the intensive care unit at al-Aqsa hospital. “We have noticed bodies that look melted. We are calling for investigations into such injuries, which we have not [seen] in previous Israeli attacks.” (electronicintifada.net, July 28)
Israeli tank rounds killed 16 Palestinians at a U.N. school in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun after hundreds of students sought shelter there. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said U.N. staff were among the casualties and that more than 100,000 Gazans have sought refuge in U.N. facilities.
Israel denied responsibility for all these attacks, claiming Palestinians are firing on their own people or misfiring rockets.
Determined to resist
Yet Israel’s brutal offensive has failed in its goal of destroying the collective will of the Palestinian people to resist.
Gaza, a flat, sandy strip of land the size of Brooklyn or Detroit, is an open-air concentration camp. Israel deploys high-tech drones, overflights and tracking of every electronic message; it uses torture to extract information. Yet it hasn’t been able to stop the missiles smuggled into Gaza or the hidden tunnels. The ability of resistance forces to carry out ambushes and sabotage has been a blow to the Israeli military machine.
Israel’s siege of Gaza has lasted for eight years. It has waged three wars there in the last five years. In this offensive, 52 Israeli soldiers have been killed so far by the resistance — three times the number in earlier attacks.
Palestinians have carried out successful military operations inside Israel at least six times. U.S. and European airlines suspended their Israeli flights and landings for 24 hours in fear of Gaza’s missiles.
The Israeli war on Gaza would be impossible without total U.S. support. This is as much a U.S. war as those against Iraq and Afghanistan. It is waged with U.S. equipment, dollars, and political and diplomatic support.
Secretary of State John Kerry has been frantically racing through the region trying to shore up Israel’s position. He is not engaged in talking up a ceasefire out of concern for the Palestinian people.
Hamas, the elected leadership of Gaza, is holding out in order to end Israel’s blockade. (See workers.org, “Hamas’ conditions for ceasefire.”) Their fight is for the very survival of Gaza.
The population is united around a minimum goal: Israel must end its blockade of imports and exports. All armed groups in Gaza are cooperating. With so many armed fighters, the government could not survive without this unity.
Israel agreed in 2012 to a ceasefire. It then violated every provision of the agreement, kept the strangling blockade in place and rearrested Palestinians it had released in a prisoner exchange.
This July 27 it declared a ceasefire and then announced it would continue with “limited operations” to clear tunnels. On July 28, it struck Gaza’s major hospital, al-Shifa. That’s when it also bombed the Shati refugee camp and killed 10 people, including eight children playing on a swing set.
Isolation in the face of outrage
Searing images that can’t be kept out of the world media are stoking international outrage against Israel. U.S. imperialism is virtually alone in backing Tel Aviv.
When the attack began, not only the U.S., but all the imperialist powers of Europe, plus the Gulf state monarchies and the Egyptian military dictatorship, supported it. But mass pressure from below has forced many states to recalibrate their public position.
On July 23, 29 members of the U.N. Human Rights Council voted to launch an independent commission to investigate violations of human rights unleashed by Israel’s assault on Gaza. Only the U.S. voted no. Washington’s European allies abstained.
The council condemned the “widespread, systematic and gross violations of international human rights and fundamental freedoms” arising from Israeli military operations since July 13 and called for an immediate ceasefire. It demanded that Israel immediately reopen the occupied Gaza Strip and called upon the international community to provide urgently needed humanitarian assistance and services to the Palestinian people.
Uprising in West Bank
As the assault on Gaza intensified, tens of thousands marched in cities across the occupied West Bank on July 24 and 25, despite checkpoints, soldiers and settler/snipers gunning down demonstrators in Hebron. Nine Palestinians were killed near the West Bank cities of Nablus and Hebron. At the Qalandia checkpoint, Israeli soldiers shot approximately 200 protesters. The wounded were rushed to Ramallah Hospital where two died.
This uprising in the West Bank was the largest protest there since massive repression crushed the 2000-2005 Palestinian uprising, called the Second Intifada.
Among Israelis, a small but outspoken opposition rejects racism and brutal repression. Some 130 young people face jail for signing statements and refusing to enlist in the military. Udi Segal, a 19 year old from Kibbutz Tuval, was jailed on July 28 after saying he refused to accept a life filled with violence, occupation, fear and hostility.
Fifty former Israeli soldiers refuse to be part of the reserves and say they will support all those who resist being called up.
A large “Stop the War” rally in Tel Aviv held on July 26 by Palestinian and Israeli members of Combatants for Peace was attacked by right-wing Israelis. Israeli vigilante groups are targeting Palestinians and Jewish leftists. But Jews Against Genocide went to the Israeli Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem to honor Palestinian children being systematically murdered.
The war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Gaza today are the latest stage of an ongoing campaign of ethnic cleansing and genocide against the Indigenous people of this land.
Outrage is growing against U.S. imperialism for backing this criminal onslaught.
Lebanese resistance leader Hassan Nasrallah declared at a massive rally in Beirut that Israel is on a path toward “suicide” in Gaza and praised the Palestinian resistance.
A July 22 article by Ali Abunimah, co-founder of Electronic Intifada, was titled “Israel is being defeated in Gaza as it was in Lebanon.”
Anti-Zionist Israeli Gilad Atzmon writes: “The IDF’s defeat in Gaza leaves the Jewish State with no hope. The moral is simple. If you insist on living on someone else’s land, military might is an essential ingredient to discourage the dispossessed from acting to reclaim their rights. The level of IDF casualties and the number of bodies of Israeli elite soldiers returning home in coffins send a clear message to both Israelis and Palestinians.” (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com, July 21)
The rulers of Israel and the U.S. arrogantly assumed they had politically isolated Hamas through the coup in Egypt and war in Syria. Israel was determined to break the announced unity government of Hamas and Fatah and the armed opposition in Gaza.
This heroic resistance will resonate globally. It will strengthen the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. It is urgent that everyone opposed to war and oppression stand up for Palestine NOW!