By JAMES MARKIN
The status quo in Palestine has been shattered once again this week as Hamas soldiers managed to break out of the Gaza Strip and enter many southern Israeli towns. The Hamas ground invasion was part of an overall campaign that Hamas has dubbed “Operation Al Aqsa Typhoon,” which also included an enormous missile barrage and a series of internet-hacking attacks on Israeli websites. The name of the operation alludes to Israel’s continued encroachments on the Temple Mount complex in Jerusalem, which includes the Al Aqsa Mosque—seen as one of the holiest sites in Islam.
This operation is the largest and most daring offensive by any Palestinian faction since the 1970s. After breaking through the wall in Gaza on Saturday, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) troops moved, seemingly without opposition, throughout southern Israeli cities like Sderot and Ashkelon.
The days that followed the invasion were the bloodiest Israel had seen in decades. Along with the hundreds of Israeli dead, military infrastructure in the south of the country has been destroyed. Videos released by Hamas show their troops destroying Israeli tanks on base and dropping explosives on soldiers at checkpoints from drones. Hamas soldiers managed to take an unknown number of both military and civilian prisoners back into the Strip.
This brutal violence from Hamas was a clear result of the continued siege of Gaza since 2006. Since Hamas came to power in the Strip, Israel has carried out a systematic campaign to prevent residents from living decent or prosperous lives. The blockade prevented Gazans from leaving, while Israel bombed infrastructure and prevented Palestinians from fishing the sea or operating their airport.
As Karl Marx wrote, describing the brutal violence of Indians against British rule during the Revolution of 1857, “There is something in human history like retribution: and it is a rule of historical retribution that its instrument be forged not by the offended, but by the offender himself.” In the same manner, Israel has forged the weapon that is Hamas through their continued war on the people of Gaza.
In response to the Hamas operation, Israel has declared war and begun the process of forming a government of national unity. While the Israeli politicians began their work in Knesset, the Israeli armed forces wasted no time in resuming their genocidal bombing campaign against Gaza. Many experts around the world fear even worse acts of violence by the Israeli armed forces against civilians in Gaza in the coming days. The last time that Hamas took prisoners, it led to an Israeli ground invasion, and an even larger ground invasion could be coming this week.
The war also has the potential to expand beyond the Gaza Strip. On Monday morning, fighters from PIJ infiltrated the Galilee from Lebanon, leading to Israeli retaliation bombings across southern Lebanon. The armed group Hezbollah has announced that three of its members had died in these Israeli bombings and vowed vengeance against the Zionist regime, launching its own rockets. Given Hezbollah’s previous success against the IDF in the last two Lebanon Wars, this represents the potential of a very dangerous second front of the war.
Similarly, Israel has announced a lockdown of the West Bank, closing off checkpoints between Palestinian cities. In response to the continuing violence, a general strike has been announced by Palestinians in the West Bank, and large protests have engulfed the hated Israeli Qalandia Checkpoint outside of Ramallah. Israel has attempted to disperse these protests with live fire—which has killed three Palestinians, including a 16-year-old boy.
In the meantime, Israel has made its aims clear: the destruction of Hamas as a governing force and as many Palestinians as they can kill in revenge along with them. While Netanyahu in his first statement told Gazan civilians that his war is not against them and told them to leave the Strip, Israel has continued to prevent Gazans from leaving, including by bombing the crossing with Egypt. This morning, a video was circulated by the Israeli ministry of defense, where defense minister Yoav Gallant called Gazans “human animals” and vowed to cut off all food, water, and electricity going into the Strip. It is clear what is coming: bloodletting on a scale that has not been seen since 1948.
Israel feels like they can kill with impunity because they have been given the green light to act by the United States and its allied countries in Europe. Joe Biden has made his position clear: he believes that Israel must be allowed to retaliate against Palestinians without limit. All statements coming out of Washington have made it clear that they support Israel with no caveats. Similar statements have been made by powers within the orbit of the American empire, including the UN Secretary General, who condemned Hamas but refused to call for an end to Israeli bombings.
Similar statements were made by politicians all across the American political spectrum, including those that had been endorsed by DSA such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Cori Bush. In diplomatic spaces, the United States has intervened against all attempts to call for a ceasefire, instead pushing for joint statements condemning Hamas and giving the green light to Israel for their continuing war on the civilian population of Gaza. In addition, the U.S. Navy has ordered the Gerald Ford carrier strike group into the region. This is a naked act of imperialist aggression that reveals that the U.S. has no interest in peace. The entire facade of a bourgeois world order that cares about human rights and humanitarian conditions has been ripped asunder as the heads of state of the U.S. and Europe howl for Palestinian blood.
The international labor movement must make it clear that we reject the actions by our governments to support Israel in its unending killings against Palestinians. Several large demonstrations in support of Palestine in Western cities like New York show that thousands are at odds with their governments’ bloody consensus with Tel Aviv. We must oppose entirely the false statements against violence by our governments, which refuse to equally condemn the horrific anti-human attacks on Gaza. We must make clear that we refuse to participate in any escalation by the conflict and we protest any war aid sent by the USA to enable Israel’s crimes. We must mobilize in our unions to join the BDS movement and to boycott any arms being sent to Israel. We must show that workers of the world stand against the planned genocide of Gaza.
However, while the international working class must join in solidarity with Palestine, the real struggle for the future of the country must be settled by Palestinians. As long as the Zionists maintain their bloody rule through the apparatus of the state of Israel, bloodshed and violence are inevitable. The state of Israel must be dismantled and replaced with a secular democratic Palestine. While the military capacity of Hamas is clearly larger than anyone suspected, operations like Al Aqsa Typhoon ultimately cannot succeed in overcoming the state of Israel. The leadership of the legacy Palestinian groups like Hamas and Fatah are struggling to remain relevant, as their strategy has failed for decades to make progress towards a livable future for Palestinians.
What is needed is for the Palestinian working class to unify behind one banner across Gaza, the West Bank, the 1948 territories, and the diaspora, with the support of the broader Arab and international working class. Only such a broad and unified front of the working class is capable of making a revolution that can overthrow Zionist colonization and advance towards a socialist future in Palestine.
Photo: Heavy destruction by Israeli warplanes in Gaza. (Ibrahim Dahman / CNN)