Friday, April 13, Gaza:

Palestinians Defy Israeli Bullets and Tear Gas for Third Straight Week

April 16, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

For the third week in a row, thousands of Palestinians turned out at five different protest sites along Gaza’s border with Israel. These demonstrations are part of the ongoing “Great March of Return” protest demanding the Palestinians’ right to return to land stolen from them by Israel and an end to the confinement of over two million Palestinians in the open-air concentration camp that is the Gaza Strip. April 13 was “Flag Friday,” with Palestinians burning or stomping on Israeli flags while waving the red, white, green and black Palestinian flag. Defying and dodging Israeli gunfire, some youth ran toward the border fence in bold assertion of their right to return to their lands. 

For the third week in a row, these courageous, unarmed Palestinians were met with deadly live fire from the Israeli side—some of the protestors were 100 yards away from the border fence, on Palestinian land! One protester was murdered, and 233 were wounded. The Israelis injured over 700 more with volley after volley of choking tear gas. They even fired at families with children who had gathered more than 300 yards from the fence. So many are being shot and wounded that Palestinians have set up field hospitals in their protest encampments and started burning tires so the thick, dark smoke would obscure the view of Israel’s snipers.

Over these past three weeks, 35 protesters have been killed and 3,000 have been injured—including 1,000 shot by live ammunition and another 300 hit by rubber bullets. Over these weeks, there have also been a number of protests in the occupied West Bank in solidarity with the “Great March of Return,” and dozens more injured.

These shootings are outrageous crimes against humanity. Israel is an illegitimate settler state created by violently expelling the Palestinian people. Now it shoots those it dispossessed and justifies it with the genocidal, Nazi-logic of Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman: “There are no innocent people in the Gaza Strip.”  

The U.S. has backed Israel and its genocidal ethnic cleansing since its founding in 1948. For decades, Israel has functioned as a military bastion to defend and extend U.S. domination of the Middle East and worldwide.

Today Israel’s massacre is being fully backed by the Trump/Pence regime—which blocked a UN inquiry into the killings—and by the Democratic Party leaders, who overwhelmingly have refused to speak out against Israel’s blatant murder. U.S. military aid has been increased to $3.8 billion a year, while humanitarian aid to the Palestinians has been slashed!

These brave, massive protests show that the Palestinian people still burn with the hope and desire for national liberation. These hopes, and these protests, are totally just and righteous.

At the same time, this should not be conflated with and seen as just flowing from the Islamist program and outlook of Hamas, which is now the dominant political force in Gaza, and a major force in the current protests. As background, there are a number of political calculations in this context, such as the rivalry between Hamas and Fatah (the Palestinian party that runs the Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited governmental power--under overall Israeli dominance--on the West Bank), and their consequent need and aim to be seen as the legitimate representative of the oppressed and occupied Palestinian people. And most critically, there’s the escalated hostility of the U.S. Trump/Pence fascist regime against Iran, which supports Hamas. Two points on this:

First, the protests of the Palestinian people, given their history and current reality, are just.

Second, Hamas, as an influence in these protests, and its potential leadership role, is NOT a force for liberation from oppression and does NOT represent a radical alternative to imperialism and the apartheid policies of its enforcer Israel. In fact, quite to the contrary, Hamas’s political, social and ideological program is utterly reactionary, and opposed to the fundamental interests of the vast majority of Palestinians and the world’s peoples. Its Islamic fundamentalist and obscurantist outlook call for religious rule and the subjugation of half of humanity, women, among other sections of the people.

The fundamental interests of the Palestinian people are NOT represented within the dynamic between the imperialist U.S. interests, now in fascist form with the Trump/Pence regime, with its enforcer in Israel on one side, and the Islamic fascists represented by Hamas and its backer in Iran on the other—an overall dynamic captured in this quote from Bob Avakian:

What we see in contention here with Jihad on the one hand and McWorld/McCrusade [increasingly globalized western imperialism] on the other hand, are historically outmoded strata among colonized and oppressed humanity up against historically outmoded ruling strata of the imperialist system. These two reactionary poles reinforce each other, even while opposing each other. If you side with either of these “outmodeds,” you end up strengthening both.

While this is a very important formulation and is crucial to understanding much of the dynamics driving things in the world in this period, at the same time we do have to be clear about which of these “historically outmodeds” has done the greater damage and poses the greater threat to humanity. It is the historically outmoded ruling strata of the imperialist system, and in particular the U.S. imperialists. (BAsics 1:28)

Palestinians have suffered immeasurably, are rising and standing up heroically, and deserve and cry out for a whole other, liberating way. 

These weekly protests are continuing and will culminate on May 15—the day after the 70th anniversary of the 1948 founding of Israel through the violent uprooting of three-fourths of the Palestinian population. Palestinians mark May 15 as the Nakba—the Catastrophe.

The massive, heroic outpourings of so many thousands of Palestinians is an important, welcome breath of fresh air, especially at a moment when the Trump/Pence regime and Israel are escalating their threats and assaults across the region. These protests—and the Palestinian people—should be energetically supported! 

 

 

 

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