How a Botched Israeli Raid in Gaza Came Close to Setting Off a Massive Slaughter of Palestinians
And What That Says About the Intolerable State of the World

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Early this week, a team of Israeli agents slipped into the locked-down Palestinian region of Gaza to carry out a secret operation. Before they could be extracted by helicopter, they were exposed and confronted by security forces of Hamas, the Islamic fundamentalist movement that is the dominant political force in Gaza. In response, the Israelis shot and killed at least seven people and in the exchange of gunfire, one of the Israeli operatives was killed. In the days that followed, Hamas and other armed groups in Gaza fired missiles and mortar shells into Israel, and Israel pummeled Gaza with airstrikes and tank fire, destroying a TV and radio station, Hamas offices, and high-rise apartment buildings.

The situation came within a hair-trigger of setting off a massive slaughter by Israel against the two million people in Gaza. Two such wars over the past ten years (in 2008 and 2014) killed thousands of civilians in Gaza. However, in the middle of the week, Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire which, at this writing, remains in tenuous effect.

The fact that Israel has not launched an all-out war against Gaza off of these recent developments (at least for now) set off a major crisis in the Israeli ruling coalition. That coalition is headed by hard-line right-wing Zionist Benjamin Netanyahu. His “defense” minister, an even more extreme Zionist, resigned in protest, railing that by agreeing to a ceasefire with Hamas, “Israel lost its deterrence against all its enemies.” The minister's party pulled out of the ruling coalition government, and new elections are widely predicted. How all this will be resolved is up in the air, and could lead an increased role for forces to the right of even Netanyahu, and/or to another Israeli massacre of the people in Gaza.

To make any sense of how things came so close to yet another massacre of Gaza, and how to act in the interests of humanity, we need to shine a light on three basic realities.

1. Israel Is Carrying Out Genocide Against the Palestinian People in Gaza

Gaza is a tiny strip of land six miles wide by 25 miles long. It is inhabited by Palestinian people driven from their homes in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, the Nakba (Arabic for “catastrophe”), in 1948 that resulted in the establishment of the state of Israel.

Calling Gaza the world’s largest outdoor prison is not a metaphor or hyperbole. Both Israel (which largely surrounds Gaza on land and sea) and Egypt (with whom Gaza shares a small border) have essentially locked people in. The Israeli blockade keeps medicines, dialysis machines, and heart monitors from reaching people. Gaza has fertile land and access to fishing in the Mediterranean Sea, but that is blocked by Israel, which periodically shoots farmers on land near the Israeli border and attacks Palestinian fishermen. The U.N. reports that over half the residents of Gaza are “moderately-to-severely food insecure.” Electricity is available only a few hours a day, and sewage and water treatment facilities are overwhelmed because Israel refuses to allow sufficient fuel into Gaza to keep them operating. The 2014 “war” between Hamas and Israel (really a one-sided Israeli massacre) damaged 547 schools, kindergartens, and colleges, many of which have yet to be repaired because Israel will not permit building supplies to reach Gaza.

Gaza has a higher unemployment rate—44%—than almost any country in the world, and the vast majority of people survive only through public assistance. People locked down in Gaza are denied access to essential healthcare and educational opportunities, and they are separated from loved ones in the West Bank (a larger section of Palestine, physically disconnected from Gaza). As recently as four years ago, thousands of people a month crossed from Gaza into Egypt for medical care, but since the 2014 massacre, the one border crossing into Egypt has been almost completely shut down. (For documentation of this, and much more on the horrific conditions in Gaza, see the BBC feature “Israel-Palestinian conflict: Life in the Gaza Strip,” May 15, 2018.)

All this, combined with frenetic and constant dehumanization and demonization of the Palestinian people by Israel and the rulers of the U.S., and moves in different international legal arenas by the U.S. to delegitimize the existence of a Palestinian people, amounts to real and intensifying genocide.

2. “Wars” Between Israel and Gaza Are One-Sided Slaughters

The Palestinian people in the West Bank, in Gaza, within the borders of Israel, and in diaspora around the world have never stopped resisting being driven from their homeland, being dehumanized, and being subjected to genocide. And from its inception, Israel has dealt with that resistance through death, torture, and terror. That ongoing genocidal violence frames the specific situation in Gaza today.

In 2007, the Islamic fundamentalist organization Hamas gained political control in Gaza. Hamas and the trend it is part of are reactionary, based on a draconian interpretation of Islam. Nevertheless, the rise of Hamas posed a serious threat to Israel, including creating openings for the Islamic Republic of Iran—which the U.S. and Israel see as the top threat to their interests in the Middle East—to expand its influence in the region.

At the end of 2008 and beginning of 2009, basically in response to the rise of Hamas, Israel launched a one-sided “war” that subjected the people of Gaza to weeks of collective punishment, destroying schools and shelling hospitals, killing some 1,400 people.

Six years later, in 2014, Israel launched a second massacre that was even worse. Of that slaughter, a UN report said: “[T]he scale of the devastation was unprecedented. The death toll alone speaks volumes: 2,251 Palestinians were killed, including 1,462 Palestinian civilians, of whom 299 women and 551 children; and 11,231 Palestinians, including 3,540 women and 3,436 children, were injured ... of whom 10 percent suffered permanent disability as a result.” Apartments, schools and hospitals, and entire neighborhoods were targeted and demolished by Israel’s bombs, missiles, and bulldozers. United Nations schools designated as safe havens were targeted at least seven times, killing dozens who sought refuge at them. (See “UN Report Reveals the War Crimes of Israel’s Assault on Gaza in 2014: ‘In Wartime, There Is No Civilian Population, Just An Enemy’” at

Apologists for Israel’s crimes defend these massacres by invoking the rocket attacks from Gaza on Israel. During the 2014 “war,” such rocket attacks resulted in six deaths in Israel. This is an obscene pretext that denies the extreme one-sidedness of the death and devastation, and masks the real and fundamental factors involved, starting with the violent dispossession of the Palestinian people from their land.

Israel’s bloody terror in Gaza has been punctuated by, but is far from confined to, these two wars. The botched raid last week, whatever its specific mission, was part of a pattern of incessant, everyday kidnappings, murder of protesters, torture of children, drone attacks, assassination of officials, and other acts of terror to keep the Palestinian people, and the population of Gaza in particular, in a state of constant shock, and to bludgeon Hamas into submission and collaboration with Israel.

Why, in the wake of the botched raid, did Israel come so close to launching another one of these massacres? Because, in the eyes of powerful sections of the Israeli ruling circles, without that kind of slaughter, the death of one Israeli agent in Gaza might undermine the state of terror that Israel imposes on Gaza.

3. Trump/Pence and Democrats Agree: Israel Is an Essential Ally for an Empire in Crisis

Since the mid-1960s, Israel has served as a base, and enforcer, for U.S. imperialism in the Middle East and beyond. Now, at a time when the position of the U.S. atop a world of exploitation and oppression is being challenged and under stress from many directions, the “special relationship” between the U.S. and Israel is seen as all the more critical by the U.S. rulers. And, as the Trump/Pence regime tears up all kinds of international agreements, alliances, and norms, they have moved to tighten the alliance with Israel. From day one in office, Trump and Pence threw out all pretense that the United States would be a “neutral” party in some “peace process” with the Palestinians, and moved to officially delegitimize any recognition of the Palestinian people, including defunding relief agencies that recognized the refugee status of Palestinians driven from their homeland.

In May of this year, the Trump/Pence regime moved the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv (Israel’s largest city, where almost every country maintains its embassy) to Jerusalem. This trampled on agreements going back to the establishment of Israel that promised Jerusalem as a capital of any future Palestine state. And it set off global outrage, including protest in Gaza that resulted in the murder of dozens of Palestinians by Israel and the serious wounding of thousands. (See “Palestinians Again Stand Up to Israel’s Murderous Violence!”) Moving the embassy to Jerusalem also fulfilled a demand that has been at the top of the agenda of end-times Christian fundamentalist lunatics—including Mike Pence—who see an apocalyptic clash in Israel as a stepping stone to the second coming of Jesus.

In response to the embassy move, and in the aftermath of the shooting of thousands of Palestinian protesters, top Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer said, “I sponsored legislation to do this two decades ago, and I applaud President Trump for doing it.” And at a conference of AIPAC (the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee) in March of this year, Schumer invoked Jewish fundamentalist mythology and U.S. interests to declare, “[W]e, in America, must stand strong with Israel through thick and thin.” Democrat Nancy Pelosi (who appears likely to be the next Speaker of the House of Representatives), Democratic Senators Ben Cardin and Amy Klobuchar, and Representative Adam Schiff also spoke at the AIPAC conference. None of them protested Israel’s ongoing oppression and terror against the Palestinians. And in 2017, 14 Democratic senators joined 29 Republicans in sponsoring legislation to outlaw boycotting Israeli institutions and companies.

Why this shameless and belligerent complicity of the Democrats with the crimes Israel is carrying out against the Palestinians?

There are some who identify the source of the Democratic Party’s unreserved support for Israel as residing in Jewish voters or donors. But this whitewashes the actual role of the Democrats as a ruling class party, and even intersects with very harmful anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. The real reason the Democratic Party leaders say the kinds of things Schumer said is that, despite sharp differences they have with Trump over tearing up other alliances and relationships, those differences are over how to maintain the U.S. position atop a world of exploitation and oppression. And from that perspective, there’s no ally like Israel. While the U.S. pursues alliances with countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, for example, the situation in those countries is much more unstable, and public opinion is much more inclined to identify with the Palestinian people. In contrast, that is not the case (at this point, at least) in Israel. Israel fills a role for the interests of the U.S. empire that no other ally in the region can.

Yes, the fascist Trump/Pence regime does need to be driven out. But the Democrats and what they stand for are not, and cannot be, a positive alternative from the standpoint of the interests of humanity.

An Explosive and Dangerous Situation in Urgent Need of Revolution

The fact that a botched Israeli raid in Gaza almost triggered a massive slaughter, and still might, and that this has provoked a serious crisis in the ruling alliance in Israel is an indication of just how tightly wound the situation is in the Middle East, and for that matter, the planet. And it points to the extreme dangers this situation poses.

This is a world on the edge, with a demented bully in the White House with his finger on the nuclear trigger, an end-times lunatic second in command, and a Democratic Party that—even as they disagree with, are opposed to, and have serious concerns about a lot of what Trump is doing internationally—is committed to maintaining the same hellish world order and is in agreement with Trump and Pence about Israel. The Democrats’ view, again to quote Schumer, is that America “must stand with Israel through thick and thin.”

The oppression of the Palestinian people by Israel is a linchpin of a world crying out for revolution. And exposing and opposing Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people is an important part of preparing the ground, preparing the people, and preparing the leadership for revolution, and a critical challenge to everyone who cares about humanity and justice.


Learn more from and spread these resources at

The Case of Israel: Bastion of Enlightenment or Enforcer for Imperialism?

Opposing Israel Is NOT Anti-Jewish: Major Fascist Move to Repress Campus Criticism


Israel pummeled Gaza with airstrikes and tank fire, destroying a TV and radio station, Hamas offices, and high-rise apartment buildings. (Photo: AP)


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