Israeli Defence Minister and ex-Prime Minister Ehud Barak has announced that
Israel is getting closer to a large-scale incursion into Gaza with “every passing day”.
Recent weeks have seen Gaza — which relies in the Israeli state for half of its electricity and almost all of its fuel — have its fuel supply cut, and a plan to cut off its electricity was only aborted following intervention from the Israeli Attorney General Menachem Mazouz.
This kind of collective blow, dealt out to Palestinians in Gaza as a whole, further exposes the careless brutality of the Israeli state. Mainstream NGOs such as Human Rights Watch and even the United Nations have condemned the sanctions as completely unacceptable.
Ostensibly, Israel’s renewed operations and sanctions against Gaza are aimed at stopping the near-daily rocket attacks from Hamas against Israeli military positions, but actions like this will only serve to rally people behind
the Islamist government in the area. Israeli peace organisation Gush Shalom commented that “with our own hands we are uniting a million and half people against us, in bitterness and hatred”.
Reports indicate that Hamas has been rearming recently and has entrenched itself in heavily populated areas, suggesting that any Israeli invasion would be a messy affair that would necessarily involve the slaughter of civilians. Already, at least four Palestinians have been killed, and more injured, by Israeli
rocket strikes that have missed their targets. The heavy-handed and collective blows Israel has already dealt out to Gaza in the form of sanctions must be seen as part of its longterm, sub-imperialist project to completely subjugate and atomise the Palestinian people.
The sanctions, which also prevent the transportation of certain goods in and out of Gaza, have also already led to the death of at least one man — Nemer Mohammed Salim Shuhaiber — due to being unable to access necessary medical treatment.
There are clear lines in this situation; a powerful capitalist state, backed by the biggest imperialist powers on the planet, with a first-world economy and a first-world military, is engaged in the more-or-less colonial oppression of a national group. But none of this necessitates that socialists support the
Hamas government of the area or their rocket attacks, or pretend that they represent any kind of progressive force.
Hamas is a violently reactionary organisation, the majority of which remains committed to a project of destroying the Israeli-Jewish national entity by any means necessary.Although socialists should support the right
of the Palestinian people to resist Israeli occupation, including militarily, Hamas rocket attacks on Israeli military positions cannot be divorced from its reactionary religious fundamentalist project.
The Israeli state’s actions do not mean that Israeli-Jews, who also represent
a clear national group, are somehow an illegitimate presence in the region or that they should not be entitled to national rights. The existence of organisations like Gush Shalom and large anti-occupation and anti-war
demonstrations in the past, show that Israelis can be mobilised against their government and in support the Palestinians.
Now, more than ever, socialists must look to a “third camp” in Israel/Palestine. This does not mean some point of equidistance between the Israeli military and Hamas, and it is not to imply that the forces in that conflict are in some way matched or equivalent. The third camp in Israel/Palestine is that of working-
class, democratic and radical organisations on both sides that want to support the Palestinian people on the basis of democracy and independence without wanting to threaten the national rights of Israeli-Jews. It is only
that camp that offers fundamental hope for the future. Only that camp can unite
Palestinian and Israeli workers on a basis that can push the conflict beyond “solutions” based on ceasefires and geographical carveups between reactionary forces on both sides. That camp is currently weak; our job is to strengthen it.
Alternative focuses for “campaigning” — consumer-focused actions like boycotts or perhaps marching through London waving “we are all Hezbollah” placards (as some leftists did when Israel attacked Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006) — are political blind alleys, nuturing reactionary forces and potentially bolstering to the ideology of anti-semitism.
They also offer absolutely nothing in terms of practical support to the innocent Palestinians at the sharp end of Israel’s belligerence. As Ehud Barak cries crocodile tears for the consequences of the re-invasion of Gaza that he may sanction, the labour movement internationally must redouble its efforts to positively support the Palestinian people.