In a mockery of the ceasefire agreement from a few weeks ago, Israel has now bombed Gaza for the second time in three days. These new attacks come days after Naftali Bennett succeeded the erstwhile Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Bennett represents an eight-party coalition ranging from the left to the hard-right, and has been tasked with restoring order in the region, especially after the violent days of May.
Yet, the new administration wasted no time in continuing Israel’s decades-long assault against Palestinians. Early Wednesday the Israeli military said it had conducted airstrikes the night before in the Gaza Strip. On Thursday night, thy continued this attack. Israeli warplanes are estimated to have launched 40 missiles over the northern and southern area of Gaza. The army claims it bombed military compounds and a rocket launching site near Gaza City and Khan Younis. The military has also bombed the civil administration building in eastern Jabalia. No fatalities have been reported yet, but there have been massive explosions in the last few days that have likely resulted in loss of infrastructure.
Israel blames Hamas for this new escalation, blaming their dispatch of incendiary balloons into farmland in southern Israel, in the region surrounding the Gaza strip. Israel, once again, cowers behind the excuse of self-defense while it continues to attack Palestinians. As the 11-day conflict in May shows, Israel’s capacity for violence, funded by U.S. imperialism, far exceeds that of militants in Palestine. During then, in a little over a week, with state-of-the-art military technology, Israel killed over 250 Palestinians and destroyed over 16,000 homes in the Gaza strip.
The May 26 ceasefire, brokered with the imperialist support of the United States, in fact, only went as far to stop Israel’s military offensive. In the weeks since, Israel has brutally cracked down on Palestinians protesting the occupation, arresting over 2,000 people. In the last week, Israeli forces have killed over five people, including a 15-year old Palestinian boy, Mohammad Said Hamayel. This happens as Israel continues its blockade against Gaza, denying them essential supplies, especially access to health care. This has proved disastrous throughout the Covid-19 pandemic in which Israel has essentially left Palestinians to die. A month ago, while Israel boasted high vaccination rates of over 56 percent, only 1.9 percent of Gaza’s two million people had been vaccinated. During the May attacks, furthermore, Israel bombed Gaza’s only Covid-19 testing site, leaving an already precarious population even more exposed.
New Leaders, Same Violence
The May attacks weren’t simply a result of Netanyahu’s misleadership, but are part of Israel’s ongoing project of ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in order to expand its own national boundaries. Indeed, the far-right Naftali Bennett, a former aide to Benjamin Netanyahu, strongly opposes a Palestinian state and has long shown his disdain for Palestinians. He has emphatically declared that he will not “retreat a single millimeter from Judea and Samaria [the Israeli names for the West Bank]” where many illegal Israeli settlements are located.
Shortly after being confirmed to office with the margin of a single vote, the new administration approved the “Flag March for Jerusalem.” This approval came after the march was postponed twice to avoid further conflict as Israel continued its military offensive in the Gaza strip. After finally allowing it to occur, Zionists descended onto the streets to commemorate the displacement and dispossession of Palestinians in 1967 after the Six Day War that unified Jerusalem under Israeli control. Videos circulating on social media painted a grim picture as thousands of Israelis, both young and old, shouted “Death to Arabs” as they paraded through the streets. While over 2,000 cops escorted the parade, giving them security and cover, Israeli troops shot tear gas through the narrow streets of the Arab sector to prevent counter protests from approaching the Old City.
Israel and U.S. Imperialism
In a call shortly after Bennett and his partners were sworn into office, Joe Biden congratulated the new prime minister and his cabinet saying he “looks forward to working with the prime minister to strengthen all aspects of the close and enduring relationship between [their] two nations.”
“Israel has no better friend than the United States,” Biden said, and truer words have never been spoken. For decades, the United States has been Israel’s strongest champion and benefactor. Since its formation, Israel has been a key strategic ally for U.S. imperialism and the formation and expansion of the state of Israel has been supported and championed by both political parties. For decades, Israel has been the highest recipient of U.S. foreign aid. Since 1967, the United States has provided Israel with over $100 billion in military assistance. In 2020 alone, the United States gave $3.8 billion to Israel— part of a yearly commitment made by the Obama administration. But the relationship between the United States and Israel runs deeper than this military funding. The United States provides strategic alliance and gives cover to Israel within international bodies like the U.N., all while Israel continues it’s violent expansion and oppression of the Palestinian people.
This is a relationship that Biden has long championed and now continues to support as president. In fact, just last month Biden approved an additional $735 million in military funding for Israel. During the height of military onslaught by Israel, the United States blocked a joint statement by the UN Security Council calling for a ceasefire three times in one week. Even as Israel was carrying out its brutal attacks on the Gaza strip, Biden continued to defend Israel’s right to “self defense.” Indeed, it is part of his decades-long defense of the Zionist state. In 2006, Biden acted as an international observer of the Gaza elections and denounced the results after Hamas won a resounding victory, saying that Palestine could not be trusted to hold fair elections. He subsequently signed onto a bill that called on the Bush administration to prohibit all international aid — not just from the United States — to the Palestinian Authority.
When Israel began its all-out bombing onslaught against Palestine and Lebanon later that year, Biden was an ardent champion of the military offensive, likening it to the U.S. invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. This support persisted when he was vice president, during the major bloody Israeli attacks on Gaza in 2009, 2012, and 2014. In the infamous 2014 Operation Protective Edge, which caused the deaths of over 2,000 Palestinians, including more than 500 children, Biden and the Obama administration defended Israel’s actions.
Biden is simply the next in the long line of Democrats and Republicans who, in the name of “promoting democracy in the Middle East,” have supported the violent, Zionist, apartheid regime of Israel to maintain the interests of U.S. imperialism.
The Working Class Shows the Way
Last month’s attacks, however, were met with heroic resistance by Palestinians and mass mobilizations around the world. In London, hundreds of thousands took to the street in defense of Palestinians. In the United States, the very heart of the empire, thousands took to the streets in cities across the country demanding justice for Palestinians and an end to Israel’s horrible attacks. Sectors of the vanguard rightfully identified the role that the United States has played in supporting these attacks, raising slogans against U.S. imperialism from within the belly of the beast.
In Palestine, a general strike by millions of workers brought capital to a standstill. Businesses across Jerusalem, the occupied West Bank, Gaza, and Palestinian communities in Israel were shuttered as workers, activists and the youth took to the streets to demand an immediate end to Israel’s recent offensive. The strike was called and organized by rank-and-file workers and social organizations, leading the resistance against both Israel’s attacks and their failed traditional leaderships.
The general strike and protests against the occupying forces have been an inspiring display of resistance. The strike showed a growing sector of Palestinians organizing themselves outside of the negotiations of their traditional leaderships and instead using their most powerful tools — as workers who make everything run.
To fight back against not only Israel’s recent strikes, but also until the realization of a free Palestine, it is essential that the working class in Palestine and across the world take up the path opened by the general strike. There is no liberation under occupation. It is only the organized fight back by the international proletariat in the interests of Palestinian liberation that can out an end to Zionism and Israel, and establish a single secular free Palestine.