In the early hours of October 7, militias led by Hamas, the organization that governs the Gaza Strip, carried out the most important armed incursion into Israeli territory in the last 50 years. It launched nearly 5,000 missiles and hundreds of soldiers attacked villages close to the Strip. The military operation resulted in the taking of more than a hundred hostages and the deaths of nearly one thousand people, including young people attending a music festival, families living in kibbutz, and others unconnected to the military.
On October 8, ultra-right-wing Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu announced a “long and difficult war” in response to the attacks. A spokesperson for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) announced the military evacuation of towns near the Gaza border. Israel has also cut off electricity, fuel, and access to many basic necessities for over 2 million inhabitants of the area. “We are fighting human animals and we act accordingly,” said Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. These are preparations for what Netanyahu has called an “offensive phase, which will continue with neither limitations nor respite until the objectives are achieved.” The Israeli Prime Minister assured that his country’s army will use “all its power” and urged Palestinians to leave the Gaza Strip, warning that it will reduce the area “to rubble.”
Israel has already bombed entire buildings and health facilities in the Gaza Strip, as well as other locations that the Zionist army has supposedly identified as centers of operation for Hamas militias. In the first 48 hours of Israel’s offensive, at least 700 Palestinians have already been killed. The new offensive phase will include new, more deadly attacks, and the IDF has not ruled out sending ground troops into the Gaza Strip. With each passing hour, the situation is escalating rapidly. Israeli attacks have now spread to Lebanon, and U.S. imperialism has announced that it will send further military support to Israel to reinforce its presence in the area.
The actions of Hamas, alongside Islamic Jihad militias and other Palestinian resistance groups such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) is unprecedented in the last several decades, shocking Israel and the world. The “Al Aqsa Storm” operation was based on a coordinated and planned action by the militias that has humiliated one of the most powerful armies in the world, revealing crisis and weakness within the intelligence and security apparatus. Netanyahu’s response was immediate: to declare a “state of war” and force all parties, including his opposition, to close ranks and rebuild reactionary, nationalist support for his government, which has faced immense challenges and crises in recent months.
The government led by Netanyahu, who faces multiple accusations of corruption, is hanging on by a thread. In the last year it has been confronted with massive mobilizations in the main cities of Israel to protest a judicial reform which would consolidate power in the hands of the Executive. Supported only by the ultra-right and religious parties of his government coalition, Netanyahu has been challenged by high-ranking sectors of the army and army reservists. The re-creation of a “national unity” against an external enemy has allowed him to close ranks for the time being, but it remains to be seen how long this unity will last given the deep crisis facing his government.
At the international level, the imperialist European states and the United States, which in recent years have partially questioned the policies of Netanyahu — an ally of Donald Trump — as well as his right-wing coalition, have aligned themselves unconditionally with the state of Israel. They condemn Hamas’s attacks as “terrorism” and maintain that Israel has “every right to defend itself.”
The European Commission announced that it will “review” financial aid to the Palestinian Authority, a measure that will be felt most harshly by the Palestinian people. In Germany, the main imperialist power of the EU, all the bourgeois parties, including the far-right Alternative for Germany have voiced support for Israel. The German government also announced that it will strengthen repression against demonstrations and pro-Palestinian groups.
Israel has one of the most powerful armies in the world, having been armed to the teeth by the United States and the EU and equipped with nuclear power. Since its foundation in 1948 on the basis of ethnic cleansing of the Arab population, it has exercised brutal oppression against the Palestinian people, from whom it has snatched the majority of their territory in war after war, relegating them to two narrow strips encircled by Israeli settlements. In 2014, Israel launched operation “Mighty Cliff,” bombing the Gaza Strip and killing over 2,310 Palestinians. The governments of the world that support Israel turn a blind eye to the daily murders, tortures, and other abuses committed by Netanyahu’s government, which is considered the most right-wing in the history of the state of Israel. When these world leaders do make reference to Palestinian oppression, they equate the violence of the oppressed with that of their oppressors. Those who truly have the right to defend themselves are the Palestinian people who for 75 years have suffered the military occupation of their territory and policies of extermination. With their “unconditional” support to Israel, the imperialist states endorse new massacres against the Palestinian people.
A world in turmoil
The escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is unfolding in the midst of a world in turmoil, with great tensions and geopolitical changes. A few weeks ago, Israel and Saudi Arabia announced the possibility of an agreement between the two states, one that is promoted by the United States; it would ensure the recognition of the state of Israel by the monarchy of Mohammed bin Salman.
This agreement, which did not include any major concessions to Palestine, would have signified a turning point in Israel’s geopolitical position in the region, moving it toward further “normalization” of its relations with surrounding Arab countries, as occurred with the “Abraham Accords” promoted by Trump in 2020.
Biden and Netanyahu addressed the agreement together in New York last year. The potential softening between Israel and the Saudi monarchy coincided with the announcement of a potential restoration of relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, promoted by China.
Now the agreement with the Saudi monarchy is greatly complicated by Hamas’s attacks and Israel’s declaration of war. For its part, Iran, the main regional power confronting Saudi Arabia and Israel, expressed its support for Hamas’s recent operation in Israel, as did Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Iran has a strategic alliance with Hezbollah, which is fighting Israeli forces in southern Lebanon; on Sunday it launched missiles “in solidarity” with the Hamas offensive and the Palestinian resistance.
The recent escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has led the Pentagon to shelve criticism of Netanyahu over his judicial reform, offering its “unwavering” support for Israel. Biden has announced the dispatch of ships and military aircraft, including the massive aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford and its support ships. But Biden’s plans for bottomless support to Israel are not without challenges, as the United States faces a serious political crisis: the threat of a government shutdown as a result of discussions around the national budget, specifically concerning aid for Ukraine; this has already resulted in the ousting of Kevin McCarthy from his position as Speaker of the House by a motion introduced by members of his own party.
The declaration of war by Israel and the possibility of a regional escalation of the conflict add instability to an already convulsive international situation marked by the prolonged war in Ukraine and increased tensions between NATO and Russia and China.
The Palestinian resistance and Hamas’s strategy
The Palestinian National Authority (PNA), headed by Mahmoud Abbas, has long been in a terminal crisis. The Israeli offensive over the last few years has relegated Abbas to an even more irrelevant position and exposed his policy of collaboration with the occupying forces.
The recent actions of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other Palestinian resistance groups such as the PFLP come in a context in which warnings were already being raised about the possibility of the emergence of a Palestinian “third Intifada” as a reaction to intensified repression and provocations by Israel’s right-wing coalition government and Zionist settlers. Palestinians face daily assassinations, repression, house demolitions, arbitrary arrests, and attacks in the occupied territories; Palestinians living in the state of Israel are relegated to the permanent position of second-class citizens.
For that reason, the actions of Hamas were celebrated in the Palestinian territories, as they were seen as the possible continuation of resistance against their oppressors, a resistance that all the imperialist states want to erase. The armed incursion of Hamas evoked images of “Goliath” — the state of Israel — weakened by “David” — the Palestinian resistance. This has garnered enormous sympathy among Arab populations throughout the Middle East, who also suffer oppression at the hands of imperialist forces.
We stand for the right of the Palestinian people to defend themselves and resist the attacks of the genocidal state of Israel. We condemn the hypocrisy of imperialism as it accuses the Palestinian people of terrorism at the same time that it gives unconditional support to the Israeli occupation.
However, the course of action pursued by the Hamas militias, which attacked military posts and civilians alike, has been easily instrumentalized by Netanyahu and the imperialist states to try to legitimize their declaration of war. It has allowed the Israeli government to rally the opposition and critical sectors behind support for a military offensive against the Gaza Strip. We reject the attacks on the civilian population. We do not share the methods of Hamas, which impede the necessary unity in struggle between the Palestinian population, Arabs who live in Israel, and sectors of the Jewish working class who break with Zionism and its criminal policies; this unity must be built around the denunciation of the state of Israel and its systematic apartheid in Palestine. We do not share Hamas’s program and strategy, which proclaims its objective to be the installation of an Islamic fundamentalist state throughout the territory of the state of Israel. If the “two-state” policy promoted by the PNA through the Oslo Accords proved to be a resounding failure, Hamas’s proposal also does not represent a progressive alternative.
Down with the apartheid regime. For a working class and socialist Palestine where Arabs and Jews live side by side
The crimes of the state of Israel against the Palestinian people are impossible to hide. They have long been denounced by activists and intellectuals. The Jewish historian Illan Pappé argues that the state of Israel is carrying out an “incremental genocide.” The numbers speak for themselves. According to B’Tselem (Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories), 10,500 Palestinians have been killed in military or police actions since 2000. Israeli prisons hold around 5,000 Palestinian prisoners, including children. Under Netanyahu and the extreme-right government, these crimes have reached a new scale, not only in the occupied territories of Gaza and the West Bank, but also against Arabs who live in the state of Israel itself. The far-right government officials speak openly of expelling Palestinians and annexing the West Bank.
This is the colonial oppression that the Palestinian resistance has been fighting over and over again for more than seven decades. It is what drives international campaigns such as BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions), which has widespread participation, including from organizations and individuals of Jewish origin who reject the crimes of the state of Israel.
Faced with the failure of the “two-state solution” and the new offensive of Israel’s far right, what is necessary now is the massive and coordinated struggle of all Palestinians, together with the Arab and Jewish working class living in Israel — Against Zionism, they must be joined by the youth, workers’, and feminist movements throughout the Middle East who have launched their own struggles in recent years against imperialism and their own governments, like the massive movement that swept across Iran last year; this force is capable of confronting the police state of Israel and the imperialist forces that prop it up.
To end the apartheid regime, it is necessary to dismantle the Zionist state. We defend the right to national self-determination of the Palestinian people and we fight for a workers’ and socialist Palestine with the perspective of a socialist federation in the Middle East.
We believe that only a state that aims to put an end to all oppression and exploitation, including imperialism, will be able to guarantee both the right of return of Palestinian refugees and a democratic and peaceful coexistence between Arabs and Jews. This task will have to be undertaken by the working class and peasants of the entire region.
The unity of the Palestinian masses and the Arab masses whose governments have normalized or will normalize relations with the Zionist state is key. Against false accusations of “anti-Semitism,” which aim to stifle any denunciation of the crimes of the state of Israel, we defend the right to demonstrate in solidarity with the Palestinian people confronting the new massacres that Netanyahu is preparing. From the socialist and revolutionary groups that are part of the Trotskyist Fraction-Fourth International, we call to organize united actions and demonstrations in support of the Palestinian people.
Stop the bombings and Israeli military intervention.
End all sanctions, blockades, and measures of mass punishment that plunge Palestine into deeper misery.
Free all Palestinian prisoners.
End the shipment of arms to Israel. Stop U.S. aid to Israel. Break all political and military agreements with Israel.