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Alan Woods-Gaza: What does it mean?

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  • Cort Greene
    http://www.marxist.com/gaza-what-does-it-mean-nov-2012.htm Gaza: What does it mean? Written by Alan
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 20, 2012
      http://www.marxist.com/gaza-what-does-it-mean-nov-2012.htm


      Gaza: What does it
      mean?<http://www.marxist.com/gaza-what-does-it-mean-nov-2012.htm>

      Written by Alan WoodsTuesday, 20 November 2012
      [image: Print]<http://www.marxist.com/gaza-what-does-it-mean-nov-2012/print.htm#>

      On the morning of November 15, Israel carried out the extrajudicial killing
      of Hamas military leader Ahmed al-Jabari. This act sparked off a new and
      deadly conflict between Israel and Gaza. This whole affair has all the
      hallmarks of a premeditated provocation.

      *�When the leaders speak of peace the common people know that war is
      coming.� (Berthold Brecht)*

      [image: IDF chief of staff visits southern Israel-Israel Defense
      Forces]<http://www.marxist.com/images/stories/israel/IDF_chief_of_staff_visits_southern_Israel-Israel_Defense_Forces.jpg>IDF
      chief of staff visits southern Israel Photo: Israel Defense ForcesIsraeli
      Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu clearly wanted to provoke Hamas into an
      armed conflict. He has succeeded. Hamas responded with rocket attacks on
      Israeli towns that border the Gaza strip. The Israelis have used these
      attacks as an excuse for pulverising Gaza.

      Throughout the night of Nov. 16-17, the Israeli Air Force bombed targets
      across the Gaza Strip including key Hamas ministries, police stations and
      tunnels near the border crossing with Egypt. They also carried out strikes
      in Rafah's al-Sulan and al-Zahour neighbourhoods, as well as east of the
      al-Maghazi refugee camp. Later attacks included the bombing of a building
      that was known to be occupied by international journalists.

      The Israeli propaganda machine has gone into overdrive. They try to present
      their military onslaught as a justified response to �terrorist attacks�.
      Obediently falling into line, the mass media in the western world show
      their �impartiality� by presenting the conflict as a war between equals:
      �Israeli bombs against Hamas rockets�. But this conflict is absurdly
      unequal.

      Gaza is an open-air prison in which 1.7 people live in just 140 square
      miles. It is entirely at the mercy of its powerful neighbour, Israel. The
      latter possesses the most formidable military machine in the entire region.
      Its stockpile of arms, which includes nuclear weapons, is funded by
      Washington to the tune of US$3 billion a year.

      By contrast, Gaza is a tiny besieged enclave composed mainly of
      impoverished refugees. The primitive, homemade rockets fired from Gaza are
      no match for the sophisticated weaponry of the Israeli army and air force.
      Israeli jet fighters and drones are bombarding Gaza by day and by night.

      The Israelis claim that they are aimed to kill only �terrorists� and Hamas
      officials. But the television cameras of the world give the lie to this
      propaganda. Despite the claims of the Israelis that these attacks were
      carefully targeted, most of the victims were, as usual, civilians,
      including many women and children. The harrowing scenes of diminutive
      corpses being carried by grieving relatives to the cemeteries have shocked
      the public opinion of the world.

      The population of Gaza is angry and desperate, but increasingly traumatised
      by the unrelenting bombardment, against which they have no defences.
      Despite talk of a ceasefire, Israel continues its airstrikes on Gaza, and
      Gaza continues its long-range rocket attacks on major Israeli population
      centres. The sight of rockets flying in the direction of Israel may or may
      not boost morale, but in fact their effectiveness as weapons of war is
      minimal.

      As of last night (Monday) at least one hundred people have been killed in
      Gaza, while the Israeli death toll has reached the grand total of � three.
      This is not a case of �an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.� The
      death toll of Palestinians exceeds that of Israelis by thirty three times.

      The Israelis claim that their Iron Dome defence system has intercepted most
      of the rockets. To judge by the very low Israeli casualty figures, this may
      be partly true. However, the claims of the IDF (Israel Defence Forces) that
      its Iron Dome interceptors have successfully intercepted 90 percent of the
      rockets are clearly exaggerated.

      Israel appears to be positioning itself in preparation for a ground
      operation. The Israeli Cabinet on Nov. 16 approved Defence Minister Ehud
      Barak's request to call up 75,000 reservists, even more than in the
      2008-2009 invasion of Gaza. The main roads leading to Gaza and running
      parallel to Sinai have been declared closed military zones. Tanks, armoured
      personnel carriers, self-propelled artillery and troops have been massing
      on the border in recent days. Whether this is an act of intimidation or a
      preparation for something more serious remains to be seen.
      What was the purpose of all this?

      What interest can Israel have in taking on Gaza this time?

      The timing cannot have been an accident. It follows the same pattern we saw
      exactly four years ago. On Nov. 4, 2008, while Americans were going to the
      polls to elect a new president, the Israeli army entered the Gaza Strip
      with infantry, tanks and bulldozers Its alleged aim was to dismantle the
      extensive tunnel network used by Hamas to smuggle in weapons.

      Hamas responded with a barrage of mortar and rocket fire. On Dec. 27, 2008,
      Operation Cast Lead was launched. The military campaign began with a seven
      day aerial bombardment was followed by a 15-day ground incursion. By the
      end of the campaign, many people were killed and the infrastructure of Gaza
      was devastated.

      According to figures from the Israel Defence Forces figures, only ten
      Israeli soldiers died (four from friendly fire). The hundreds of rockets
      fired by Hamas killed three Israeli civilians. But 1,166 Palestinians were
      killed, of which 709 were said to be combatants.

      It is no secret that Netanyahu wants to bomb Iran, allegedly to sabotage
      its nuclear programme. It is also no secret that Netanyahu was hoping for
      the victory of Mitt Romney in the US elections. The Republicans are well
      known to be active advocates of an attack on Iran.

      Obama is a more cautious representative of US Big Business and is worried
      about the effect of an Israeli air strike against Iran. By flexing his
      muscles only a few days after the US elections, Netanyahu is ending a
      message to Washington, which says more or less: �Obama can say whatever he
      likes, but we are the ones who decide what happens in this part of the
      world.�

      It has been said that certain forces in Gaza may be manufacturing
      long-range rockets locally. Even more significantly, it is said that the
      rockets that have been fired into Israel have been imported from Iran. The
      latter accusation would give a sinister twist to the present conflict,
      providing it with a regional dimension that is highly convenient to
      Netanyahu, who is looking for any excuse to launch an air attack on Iran.
      Part of his calculations may have been an attempt to shoring up his rear
      prior to such an attack.

      At the same time, he may also be sending a message to the new Egyptian
      government. The Moslim Brotherhood is supposed to be hostile to Israel. It
      is also supposed to be friendly towards Hamas. But this attack has shown
      the Morsi regime to be weak and pusillanimous. Cairo makes noises about the
      �humanitarian disaster� in Gaza but does not lift a finger to go to its
      defence.
      Prospects for Negotiations

      The present conflict has once more glaringly exposed the impotence of the
      so-called United Nations. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon has said he
      will go to Gaza, but he will not be able to do anything.

      All kinds of contradictory rumours regarding the outcome of cease-fire
      negotiations between Hamas and Israel have been circulating in Cairo. A
      Hamas spokesman told Al Jazeera that Israel and Hamas have �agreed to 90
      percent of the terms of a new cease-fire�. But he did not say what the
      remaining ten percent consisted of. And while Israeli officials have told
      news outlets that the government is in talks with Cairo on a cease-fire,
      Israeli officials are now denying reports that an Israeli envoy is in Cairo
      at all.

      On the face of it, there seems to be some basis for a deal. Hamas would
      like to enjoy the prestige of a symbolic victory from its long-range rocket
      attacks against Tel Aviv and Jerusalem but does not want to pay the price
      of seeing its leadership and infrastructure pulverised in an Israeli ground
      invasion.

      For its part, Israel would like to remove or neutralize the threat posed by
      Hamas' long-range rockets but does not want to go through the experience of
      a ground invasion, drawing Israeli forces into urban warfare with the
      threat of suicide bombings that could prove costly.

      It would appear that Hamas is pressing for a temporary truce in return for
      Egypt opening the border blockade on Gaza and Israel halting targeted
      killings of its leaders and military commanders. Whether the Israelis will
      accept this is open to doubt. Who will guarantee such a deal? Unless Egypt
      agrees to assume responsibility for Hamas' rocket arsenal to satisfy
      Israel's security concerns, it will be difficult for Israel to take these
      talks seriously. But that would place Egypt itself right in the firing line
      of future conflicts. It would also fatally undermine the Morsi government.

      Both sides want a negotiated end - but on terms that would leave the other
      side in a weaker position. Both sides are well aware of the other side�s
      game. In order to reach a deal, Hamas would have to recognize Israel's
      right to exist and Israel would have to accept something resembling a
      Palestinian state led by Hamas in Gaza, which would gradually take over the
      West Bank. Both these assumptions seem wildly improbable. It is hard to see
      how this contradiction can be resolved peacefully.

      Hamas does not want to give up its rockets. Israel cannot allow Hamas to
      possess weapons that threatens its heartland. The long-range Fajr-5 rockets
      can reach Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The possession of these rockets improves
      Hamas' strategic position and also serves to undermine the Palestinian
      National Authority (In the West Bank) vis-a-vis Hamas. They will therefore
      resist any deal that deprives them of the rockets. But Israel will not
      accept the Fajr-5 in the hands of Hamas. Netanyahu announced to his Cabinet
      Nov. 18 that targeted killings would not only continue, but would increase.

      It is possible that all this merely means that both Israel and Hamas are
      trying to strengthen their negotiating positions by continuing their
      attacks before a cease-fire deal is struck. Be that as it may, while the
      leaders talk of peace, the war is already under way. And although a direct
      ground attack on Gaza by the Israelis has been temporarily stalled, the
      Israelis have already mobilized their forces and are ready to attack
      whenever they choose.

      Although probably the Israelis would prefer not to attack because of the
      consequences, both in terms of human casualties and in political
      reverberations, they are poised to attack. And one must not assume that
      this is just a bluff. Netanyahu has given notice that if a truce is not
      agreed soon, a ground war may be launched even before the end of this
      week.
      Gaza and the Arab Revolution

      The Europeans are putting heavy pressure on Jerusalem to desist from an
      actual invasion of Gaza. Western capitals fear that any serious conflict in
      the region can spiral out of control. Though they always speak of
      humanitarianism, their real motives are quite different.

      Paris, London and Berlin fear the effects on the price of oil and the
      anaemic economic recovery. Above all, they fear a new eruption of the �Arab
      Street�, always highly sensitive to the Palestinian cause. It is this that
      inspires their insistent calls for peace and restraint. But the Europeans
      are far too concerned in trying to halt the disintegration of the European
      Union to get involved with what is happening.

      The same fears exist at the highest levels of the United States government.
      That is why Hillary Clinton is on a plane heading for Cairo. But, having
      burnt their fingers in Iraq, the gentlemen in Washington do not wish to be
      dragged into another conflagration in the Middle East.

      In theory the United States can pressure Egypt by threatening to withhold
      financial and military aid. But in practice no US administration can oppose
      what Israel does because, after the Egyptian Revolution, it is now its only
      reliable ally in the whole region. Therefore, despite his weasel words,
      Obama has effectively endorsed the Israeli position.

      On the broader scale, however, Israel has never been so isolated. Back in
      2008, Mubarak�s Egypt could be relied upon to adopt a position of
      benevolent �neutrality�, which was, in practice, support for Israel. Now
      Mubarak has gone, and the present Egyptian government can no longer be
      relied upon.

      In 2008 Turkey was a close ally of both the USA and Israel. But Israel�s
      relations with Turkey have been strained to breaking point by the attack on
      a Turkish ship bringing aid to Gaza in May 2010, during which several
      Turkish citizens were killed by Israeli troops. The Turkish Prime Minister,
      Erdogan, has recently denounced Israel as a �terrorist state�.

      Under Assad Syria was an adversary, but at least it was a predictable one.
      With the chaos in Syria spreading to the Lebanon, Israel can no longer rely
      on Damascus to keep Hezbollah in check. Moreover, Iran has increased its
      influence in the region, bringing it closer to Israel and intensifying the
      tension over Iranian nuclear facilities.

      Closer to home, the growing crisis in Gaza threatens to provoke renewed
      instability in the West Bank and arouse the Palestinians in Jordan. Across
      the Jordan River valley, to Israel's east, the Hashemite kingdom is hanging
      by a thread.

      But the country most directly affected is Egypt. The Egyptian government,
      terrified of the repercussions of a new war on the streets of Cairo, has
      been the most active in trying to secure a cease-fire: Cairo is hosting
      talks on a ceasefire, involving senior Hamas and Islamic Jihad members. It
      is said that Israeli officials are also present in Cairo.

      The Egyptian government has a vested interest in preventing an Israeli
      ground invasion of Gaza because of the explosive effects inside Egypt. The
      Moslem Brotherhood is supposed to be aligned with Hamas. But in reality,
      its support is confined to hypocritical speeches about the plight of the
      people of Gaza. Morsi will have to promise the Israelis that he will do
      everything in his power to prevent weapons smuggling via Gaza. He will
      stand exposed before the masses.

      The leaders of Hamas have the ambition of donning the mantle of
      �resistance� that was earlier worn by Hezbollah. They hope that the present
      crisis will enable them to win a symbolic �victory� over Israel. But that
      is an idle dream, which can end up in the complete devastation of Gaza.

      The people of Gaza are increasingly desperate. They have no control over
      events that are destroying their lives. They hate the Israeli oppressors,
      but also resent the dictatorial rule of the �men with beards,� which has
      brought them nothing but death and suffering. Neither Hamas nor the
      so-called Palestinian Authority can offer any solution. Only a genuine
      revolutionary leadership can show the way out for the Palestinian people.

      For its part, the Israeli ruling clique pretends that their aggressive
      actions are intended to eliminate Hamas' arsenal of rockets and thus
      guarantee the safety of Israel. But with every new war, Israel becomes a
      less secure place. It is increasingly isolated both in the region and
      internationally.

      These brutal attacks on Gaza have added yet another twist to the bloody
      imbroglio of the Palestinian question. The spectacle of death and
      destruction will have filled yet another generation of Palestinian youth
      with feelings of rage and hatred, adding fresh fuel to the fire. In what
      way this can be presented as making Israel safe for future generations is s
      mystery.

      Every Palestinian child that dies in an air raid deepens the mood of
      bitterness and feeds the thirst for revenge. Every �victory� merely sows
      the seeds of new wars, new terrorist acts, new murders and atrocities. On
      this path lies nothing but death and destruction for all the peoples of
      this unhappy region.

      In this struggle, the IMT stands firmly on the side of the oppressed and
      against the oppressors. The question of who fires the first shot and all
      the rest of the diplomatic sophistry is of no interest. We stand shoulder
      to shoulder with the people of Gaza against the barbarous onslaught of the
      Israeli aggressors. We will be to the forefront of every anti-war movement,
      protest and demonstration. We will endeavour to bring out the class content
      of the struggle, its anti-imperialist character. We will mercilessly expose
      the hypocrisy of western governments and their false �humanitarian�
      rhetoric.

      We must build links with the most revolutionary sections of the youth in
      Gaza, who are fighting against imperialism and the Israeli state and also
      against the reactionary leadership of Hamas and the bourgeois
      collaborationist wing of the Palestinian leadership. Above all, we must
      maintain a broader perspective. The present conflict is just part of a far
      wider picture that encompasses the entre Middle East and cannot be
      understood outside this context.

      The Gaza crisis is only the prelude to a far greater crisis. It is
      inseparably linked to Netanyahu�s plans for an air attack against Iran,
      which will set the entire Middle East ablaze. It will have incalculable
      consequences, economic, political and military. It will provoke a new wave
      of upheavals in the Arab world and beyond. Regimes will fall. People will
      take to the streets. The price of oil will go through the ceiling, and the
      world economy will take a nose dive, as it did in 1973 for similar reasons.

      The Gaza crisis can be the match that reignites all the combustible
      material that has accumulated in the Middle East. It will mark a new stage
      in the ongoing Arab Revolution.

      The stage is set for dramatic events on a world scale.

      20th November, 2012.


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