UPDATE—On Friday morning (Thursday night in the U.S.), May 14, Israel massed troops and tanks on the border with Gaza and announced that its “air and ground troops are currently attacking in the Gaza Strip.” Later, the Israeli army issued a statement denying it had invaded Gaza. At this writing, it is unclear if Israel is preparing to wage a ground invasion, or the troop buildup on the border with Gaza is for a more intense and up-close bombardment of Gaza. In any event, it is a very ominous development in an ongoing slaughter of Palestinian people in Gaza.
As of Thursday night, Israeli bombs had killed well over 100 people in Gaza including 27 children. A video posted by Al Jazeera shows the anguished moments after an Israeli missile strike on someone driving down the street with fish in their car. A witness calls out Israel for killing a woman in the car and her children, along with a barber and a shopkeeper who came to help.
The massacre of civilians is an obscene war crime. The Israeli attacks on Gaza is not a “response to Hamas rockets.” It is a war crime in defense of a war crime: seizing homes of Palestinians in East Jerusalem—territory occupied through war—which is a violation of international law (Israel seized East Jerusalem in a war with neighboring Arab states in 1967).
As the death toll in Gaza grows, protests spread in the West Bank. Israeli police responded with live ammunition, killing protesters. On Wednesday, Palestinian teenager Rashid Abu Arreh was fatally shot by the Israeli army. Hours earlier, 26-year-old Hussein al-Titi, 26, was shot dead during protests against the Israeli army in the al-Fawwar refugee camp.
And rabid Zionists staged violent pogroms (a term originally applied to deadly anti-Semitic riots in Eastern Europe) in Israel. A mob marched through a suburb of Tel Aviv attacking Arab-owned businesses, chanting racist slogans and smashing glass windows of Palestinian businesses, and attempted to lynch a cab driver they thought was Palestinian.
Israel’s ongoing terrorization of and assaults on the Palestinian people in Gaza exploded into massacres twice in the past 12 years. At the end of 2008, beginning of 2009, Israel invaded Gaza and killed over 1,000 people, overwhelmingly civilians and hundreds of them children, leaving the survivors living in ruins and under a blockade that kept out building supplies, food and medicine. In July 2014, Israel again launched an all-out invasion of Gaza. A UN investigation of that invasion reported, “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.”
The ongoing slaughter and danger of escalation is a “which side are you on” moment for anyone who claims to care about humanity. Silence or equivocation in the name of “wishing the conflict would end,” without calling out Israel’s crimes, is complicity. Stay tuned to revcom.us for ongoing coverage.
Over the past week, Israel unleashed massive, high-tech brutality, terror and death from the skies to crush protest by Palestinians. And in response, a new wave of Palestinian youth who demand to be treated as human beings has spread with courage and fury not seen in many years.
The current round of clashes started at the beginning of May in response to a move to evict Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem. Israeli authorities and apologists have tried to claim this is a simply a private land dispute. But the landlords who are attempting to evict the residents are part of a hard-core Zionist sect aiming to drive Palestinians out of East Jerusalem. Everyone in Israel knows what a deputy mayor of Jerusalem unapologetically declared: the evictions are part of a wider strategy of placing “layers of Jews” throughout the eastern half of the city in order “to secure the future of Jerusalem as a Jewish capital for the Jewish people.”
Mohammed el-Kurd, a resident of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood and someone targeted for eviction, described what life is like under siege there right now:
Sheikh Jarrah in the past few weeks has been a scene of terror. Every single night we are met with tear gas, military horses, stun grenades, rubber-coated bullets. The Israeli occupation forces are not stingy in the level of force they use against unarmed civilians and brute force they use on our women and our children. Just today somebody got wounded in the eye. Over the past week our neighbor got his house illegally invaded into and his leg broken by the Israeli occupation forces.… The level of violence that we're seeing is incredibly absurd and it’s fascist. I have been trying to shower for the past three days and I still cannot get the skunk water [poison gas used by Israel against unarmed protesters] off of my clothes, off of my skin. The chemically manipulated skunk water they use on protesters just for standing in front of our houses and saying no to state sanctioned ethnic cleansing.
(The entire interview is worth watching to understand what is going on.)
An Apartheid Regime
These eviction moves are in the context of decades of driving Palestinian people from their homes, isolating their villages behind over 400 miles of towering walls, subjecting them to constant police abuse, murder and torture, locking down around two million people in the massive outdoor prison called Gaza. And it follows years of intensifying attacks from rabid Zionist settlers that mimic the kind of violence the KKK brought down on Black people in the Jim Crow South in the U.S. Important recent work by people and organizations from different perspectives has documented that the sum total effect is the imposition of an apartheid regime in Israel that treats the Palestinian people the way the white supremacist regime in apartheid South Africa treated disenfranchised and brutally oppressed Black people (see B'Tslem's position paper “This is Apartheid).”
Israel has responded to the righteous protests by overwhelmingly unarmed Palestinians with sickening gas, lockdowns, and brutal assaults. But instead of the struggle being suffocated, protest spread from East Jerusalem throughout Palestinian communities.
The Assault on Al-Aqsa Mosque
The protests went to yet another level when Israel police brutally assaulted thousands of Muslim Palestinian worshipers at the Al-Aqsa mosque on Friday, May 7. In response to worshippers collecting stones to defend themselves, police threw stun grenades and fired rubber-coated bullets, wounding more than 150 people. Video showed stun grenades landing inside prayer rooms.
Prominent in the current clashes are openly genocidal fundamentalist Jews who play an increasingly defining role in Israel. On Monday, May 10, they marched through Palestinian neighborhoods in Jerusalem shouting “death to Arabs.”
After these assaults, the Hamas regime that controls Gaza and other Islamist forces there, launched low-tech missile attacks on Israel. Israel immediately launched missile attacks at Gaza. Hamas is an Islamic fundamentalist jihadist organization that does not stand for anything liberatory for the Palestinian people or anyone else. But this is no “exchange of missile attacks.” Hamas’s crude missiles are not comparable to Israel’s massive, cutting-edge death machinery. Hamas’s missiles are aimed generally towards cities or towns, and occasionally kill or injure a small number of Israelis. Israel’s missile attacks on Gaza over the past dozen or so years have killed thousands of people, overwhelmingly women, children and other non-combatants. In the latest attack on Gaza, Israeli missiles—guided by state-of-the-art precision targeting technology and the micro-invasive surveillance of human activity in Gaza—leveled apartment buildings, killed dozens, terrorized millions, and murdered at least ten children.
U.S. Again Asserts “Fundamental” Support for Israel
On Tuesday, May 11, in the face of this one-sided massacre, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki declared that Biden's support for "Israel's security, for its legitimate right to defend itself and its people, is fundamental and will never waver."
For over 50 years, U.S. support for Israel has been “fundamental” and unwavering. Over time that has taken the form of more, less, or (under Trump in particular) no pretense of acting as an honest broker between Israel and the Palestinians. But whatever form the U.S.-Israel “special relationship” takes, it is based on the unique role Israel plays as a nuclear-armed enforcer of the interests of the U.S. empire in a strategically critical part of the world, in opposition to liberation movements and—especially since those movements were turned around or defeated in the mid 1970s—in contention with rival bloodsuckers.
Up against all that, a new generation of heroic Palestinians are in the streets—described by one (not supportive) observer as “a 15-year-old on his smartphone, swiping orders and inspiration from TikTok… to challenge and encourage one another to confront Israelis.” For those living in the U.S. belly of the beast that enables Israel, and who are outraged by what Israel is doing to the Palestinians, there is an urgent challenge to oppose Israel’s crimes in the context of preparing the people and preparing the ground in this country for an actual revolution that would STOP wars of empire, armies of occupation, and crimes against humanity perpetrated by this system and its enforcers and allies around the world.
- On “Israel and its ‘Special Role’ in Relation to U.S. Imperialism,” see that section in Bringing Forward Another Way, a talk by Bob Avakian (BA).
- On the current existential crisis confronting Israel, see BA’s insights in the Q&A from Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution. The specific discussion of Israel is part of the Q&A available as a separate video, The rise of fascism & struggle in international communist movement. In a concentrated way, BA identifies what’s driving this existential crisis and what a liberatory solution would be.
- For a concise outline of the actual history and role of Israel, including a response to those who justify Israel as a legitimate response to the NAZI Holocaust that resulted in the deaths of millions of Jews under Hitler, see the special issue of REVOLUTION, “The Case of Israel, Bastion of Enlightenment or Enforcer for Imperialism?”