Stop the Violent Escalation in Gaza
The Communist Party of the USA (CPUSA) calls for an immediate end to the dangerous escalation in Gaza, and a return to serious negotiations on the basis of a two state solution.
Events in recent days between Israel and the Hamas led government in Gaza show, once again, the danger of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s refusal to work seriously toward the resolution of Palestinian grievances.
For some time, a shaky de-facto truce has existed between Israel and the Hamas led government in Gaza, though rockets were still sporadically being fired into Israel from Gaza. In the past week, however, this truce has broken down. Last week, the Israeli defense force killed two civilians in Gaza, an 11 year old boy and a 20 year old mentally handicapped man. A barrage of rockets was then fired into Israel from Gaza, wounding four Israeli soldiers.
But reportedly, a truce was already in the works when on Wednesday, November 14, Israel sharply escalated the conflict by assassinating Ahmed Ja’abari, the head of the Hamas military wing, with an airstrike that also killed and injured a number of bystanders. This set off an angry reaction from Gaza, with another barrage of rockets into Israeli territory. Israeli bombing of targets in Gaza, called by Israel “Pillar of Cloud” or “Pillar of Defense”, was also then sharply escalated and has continued up to now. More than 1300 Israeli air strikes have been carried out, doing great damage to infrastructure. Three Israeli civilians were killed by the rocket attacks, but at least 109 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed, including 26 children and entire families. Two young men in the West Bank were killed by Israeli troops in the course of protests against Israel’s actions in Gaza.
Netanyahu has called up reserves and has massed troops on the border, strongly hinting at another land invasion like “Operation Cast Lead” in 2008, which was condemned by the world community because of the number of civilian casualties it caused in Gaza’s crowded cities.
The United States and other Western powers have condemned the rocket attacks and emphasized Israel’s right to defend itself. But most countries in the Arab and Muslim worlds, as well as many others, have condemned the Israeli attack as an act of brutal aggression.
The CPUSA points out that that the present escalation must be seen in the context of the intransigence of the Netanyahu government, which has stalled peace talks while it actively promotes the building of settlements on land promised to the Palestinian people. This continues the imposition of another regime of violence on the Palestinians both in Gaza and the West Bank: The violence of poverty and the crushing of an entire people’s aspirations. While there is no progress toward a peaceful solution of the Israel-Palestine conflict, and while the mass of the Palestinian people, in Gaza, in the West Bank and in exile, suffer the consequences, the danger of war continues to be high. The bellicose rhetoric of the Netanyahu government, toward the Palestinians but also in the context of the dispute with Iran, increases the danger even more. A case in point is the threatening stance that Netanyahu has taken toward the PLO led government in the West Bank should they try to push their claim to advanced observer status at the United Nations, a claim which they have every right to make.
The rocket attacks against Israel by militants in Gaza are indefensible and must be stopped by the Gaza authorities. But it is also the case that the Palestinians are completely outgunned by the Israeli Defense force, and pose no existential threat to the Israeli state. Given the vast disproportion between civilian casualties in Israel on the one hand and Gaza on the other, the rocket attacks are no excuse for the Israeli actions.
The whole world knows that the Israeli government counts on automatic backing, both diplomatic and financial, of the United States. Nevertheless there are news stories suggesting friction between the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government, whose actions have included crass interference in the recently completed general elections in the United States. Although news reports suggest that the Obama administration is not happy with the prospect of a land invasion of Gaza by the Israeli Defense Force, other voices in the United States are stridently demanding unconditional support for Israeli actions no matter what the cost in human lives. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, for example, has called for a cutoff of US aid to Egypt should President Morsi not support the Israeli position.
The CPUSA urgently calls for the following:
- The Netanyahu government in Israel must immediately and completely cease the escalation of the Gaza situation, stop the bombardment and pull its troops back from the Israel-Gaza border.
- The United States government must not confine itself to bland statements about Israel’s right to defend itself, but must exert far more pressure on the Netanyahu government to cease and desist from further attacks in Gaza, and to return to serious negotiations toward the quick achievement of a two state solution that finally begins to fulfill the aspirations of the Palestinian people.
- The Hamas led government in Gaza must move to stop rocket attacks against the civilian population in Israel.