Israel came close to launching a new invasion of Gaza last weekend. A barrage of Israeli missiles pummelled the besieged Palestinian territory over two days of fighting, during which two infants and two pregnant women were killed.
It was the latest of a series of Israeli bombardments of Gaza—the eighth since May last year. It was also the most violent, with the Israeli military making more overt threats to launch an invasion.
And speaking after a ceasefire was declared on Monday, Netanyahu warned that “the campaign is not over.” He bragged that Israel had hit Palestinians with “great force”.
Israel carried out at least 320 airstrikes on Gaza—where some two million people live in one of the most crowded areas of the world. At its height Omar Ghraieb, a journalist living in Gaza, reported he could hear explosions “every second”.
The assault completely destroyed 18 residential buildings and severely damaged another 310 as well as 13 schools.
Netanyahu said he had ordered extra “tanks, artillery and infantry” to the area. And the head of the Israeli military said he was “putting together a fighting force.”
Four Israelis were killed by rockets fired by Palestinian resistance groups.
Supporters of Israel sought to blame the Palestinians for the fighting.
But it is the siege of Gaza—now nearly 12 years old—and decades of oppression of the Palestinians that are to blame.
The fighting began after Israeli soldiers fired on Palestinians protesting at the fence between Gaza and Israel on Friday of last week. It was the 57th week of protests by Palestinians demanding an end to the siege and the right of Palestinians to return to their homes now in Israel (see below).
The same people who argue that Israel has a right to defend itself by bombarding the Gaza Strip condemn Palestinians for exercising their right to resist.
Demands on Palestinians to stop fighting back really mean asking them to be quiet and do nothing as the siege and occupation continues.
Ben Jamal, director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) in Britain said, “When you occupy the land of another people illegally, entrap more than 2 million under a blockade that makes life unbearable then you do not have recourse to the claim of self-defence.
“All the violence you employ serves to maintain your illegitimate power and control.”
He called on supporters of the Palestinians to join a national demonstration hosted by the PSC in London this Saturday. “Palestinians will continue to resist but only international solidarity supporting that resistance can change this story,” he said.
One state is only solution for justice in Palestine
The Israeli assault on Gaza came ahead of the 71st anniversary of the Nakba—the day when Israel was founded in 1948.
Palestinians commemorate this every year, marking the fact that some 850,000 of them were ethnically cleansed from the land. Israel’s founders wanted to ensure the new state had a Jewish ethnic majority.
Palestinian refugees demand the right to return to the land.
But supporters of Israel say that granting this would mean the end of Israel as a Jewish state.
In a recent article on the right wing Times of Israel website Luke Akehurst, a prominent Labour Party activist and director of We Believe in Israel, said, “This demand for an absolute right of return is not compatible with the concept of two states for two peoples. Israel can never agree to this.”
The idea that Jews cannot live alongside Arabs was behind the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in 1948.
It is used to justify the racist laws and violence that keep Palestinians marginalised inside Israel, and deny those living outside the right to return.
The only just solution is for a single, secular state in all of Palestine with equal democratic rights for Jews, Arabs and all people living in it.
Trump ups hostility to Iran
The US has sent an aircraft carrier and bomber task force to the Persian Gulf in the Middle East, with the threat of “unrelenting force” against Iran.
US president Donald Trump’s security adviser, John Bolton, said he wanted to send a “clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime”.
Trump has deliberately escalated threats of violence against Iran because he sees it as a threat to the US’s dominance in the region.
The US has also imposed economic sanctions on Iran, causing misery for the poorest people in Iranian society.
The sanctions have led to shortages of fuel and medicine, and mean that some Iranian workers have gone without wages.