Every inhabitant of the Gaza Strip knows what it is like to be held hostage by the Israeli state. It is the daily reality for the Palestinian population in one of the most densely inhabited places on the planet.
Israel’s threat to invade Gaza to secure the release of a 19 year old corporal, seized after a daring Palestinian raid on a border post, reflects the fact that its forces sit poised to strike at any moment they choose.
As Israeli tanks gathered on the border with this nominally independent Palestinian territory, Socialist Worker attempted to contact the Gaza Strip but found all phone lines were down.
Israeli warships enforced a naval blockade, its air force imposed a no fly zone and its defence forces demanded Egypt close the southern border crossing.
For over three decades the Gaza Strip was under illegal Israeli occupation. Before that many Palestinians had crowded into this narrow territory after being cast out of their homes when Israel was created.
The Gaza Strip has been under almost daily bombardment since Israel evacuated illegal settlers in 2005. Palestinian militants have been assassinated, the border with Egypt regularly closed and civilians killed by artillery barrages.
Palestinians were demanding, in return for the corporal, the release of 100 Palestinian women and over 300 juveniles currently held in Israeli jails.
Israel is a key ally in George Bush and Tony Blair’s “war on terror”. It is targeting the democratically elected Palestinian Authority which it pledged to topple from the moment the ballot boxes closed.
As the world’s attention wanders off, Israel will inflict a bitter retribution. The killing and suffering in Gaza will go on – and it will continue until Palestine is free.