28 September 2004 marked the fourth anniversary of the Al-aqsa Intifada. These have been four years of unprecedented violence, cruelty and repression unleashed by the fascist state of Israel on the Palestinian people; equally they have been four years of truly heroic resistance by the Palestinian people which has won them the admiration of progressive humanity and the grudging respect of their enemies. Four years on, the Intifada rages unabated, defying aerial bombardments, ‘targeted’ assassinations, home demolitions and tree uprootings.
Litany of Zionist death and destruction
Here is a brief summary, culled from the reports of human rights groups and official estimates, of the Zionist infamies during these four years:
Nearly 3,600 Palestinians had been done to death by the end of September this year. Since then, following the massive Israeli invasion of the Jabalya district of Gaza, another 150 Palestinians have been killed. At least 400 of those killed by the Israelis were children under the age of 15, be it said for the benefit of the liberal souls in the imperialist media who condemn the Palestinian resistance for the latter’s alleged disregard for Israeli children.
42,000 Palestinians have been wounded during the period, of which 3,000 (including 700 children) will be left with a permanent disability from injuries caused by live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas.
More than 5,000 Palestinian homes have been destroyed in the occupied territories, leaving 40,000 Palestinians homeless. Rafah in Gaza has received special attention because of the resistance it has put up against Israeli aggression and violence. At least 1,500 homes in this tiny but densely populated enclave have been demolished during the last four years, rendering 15,000 of its inhabitants homeless. Be it said in passing that since 1967, Israel has demolished 11,000 Palestinian homes throughout the West Bank and Gaza.
With total disregard for the education of Palestinian children, Israeli forces have demolished nearly 300 schools, closed down nine and converted three into garrisons.
Curfews, roadblocks, checkpoints, closures and uprooting of 1 million fruit and olive trees have wreaked havoc on the Palestinian economy, with a resultant drop of 50% in the GNP during these four years. Unemployment in Gaza has shot up to nearly 70% and the West Bank to 50%, with the result that three-quarters of the Palestinian population has now sunk into poverty and lives on less than $2 a day.
It is the constant refrain of Israeli Zionism and its chief backer, US imperialism, that what stands in the way of peace between Israel and the Palestinian people is the Palestinian violence, especially that which expresses itself in the form of suicide bombings. That this is a complete lie and a Zionist propaganda ploy is clear from the fact that although, for nearly half a year, the resistance desisted from such actions, this did not bring any joy to the Palestinians. The ‘quiet’ period of six months, separating the suicide attack on 14 March in Ashdod and the 31 August Hamas suicide attack on Beersheba, far from bringing any respite to the Palestinian people, merely saw an escalation in Israeli violence. During this period of ‘lull’, the Israelis killed 436 Palestinians and caused serious injury to another 2,200. By contrast, only 30 Israelis were killed and 57 injured, nearly all of them military personnel and settlers. Of the 436 Palestinians killed during this period, over 70 were children and 71 victims of ‘targeted’ assassinations – two dozen of them civilian onlookers. This is also the period when, on top of dozens of local leaders, two top leaders of Hamas, Sheik Yassin and his successor Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi, were murdered by Israeli missile attacks. It was in the face of continuing Israeli infamies that the resistance resumed suicide attacks on 31 August in a clear signal that Zionism’s atrocities would not go unanswered.
The truth is that Zionism is bent upon colonising almost all of Palestine and scuttling any settlement plan which would lead to the creation of a viable Palestinian state. Israel’s continuing repression of the Palestinian people is accompanied by the further expansion of settlements, the construction of the apartheid wall, and the Gaza evacuation plan, the combined effect of all of which measures is aimed at foreclosing the door on a two-state solution.
On 17 August, Ariel Sharon approved the construction of 1,000 new Jewish homes in the West Bank in a move aimed at the further acceleration of the colonisation of the West Bank. This provocative move flouts several UN Security Council resolutions, is in violation of international law, and in breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which lays down the responsibilities of occupying powers, and specifically forbids an occupier from “transferring parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies”. The Israeli claim that the new construction is merely a manifestation of the “natural growth” of the existing settlements is one of those sordid sophistries at which Zionists butchers are adept. Even so, such “natural” expansion is explicitly forbidden under the “Road Map” sponsored by the US and signed up to by Israel. Besides, while house sales in Israel fell by 22% last year, it beggars belief that there is a need for vast subsidised expansion in the settlements, which themselves contain many empty houses.
The latest Israeli construction plans are a continuation, and an extension, of the Israeli colonisation of the West Bank. Last year, according to the Financial Times (FT) of 20 August, housing starts in the settlements rose 35% while construction in Israel contracted by 15%. Notwithstanding all this Zionist expansionism, Sharon is unable to secure the agreement of his deranged fellow Zionists in his Likud Party to back his Gaza evacuation plan. For this he has to rely on the Israeli Labour Party. But this would not advance the cause of reconciliation with the Palestinians, for it was Labour, after all, under leaders such as Shimon Peres, that “… presided over the biggest expansion of the settlements – at the height of the Oslo peace process” (FT, 20 Aug 04).
That Zionism has not given up its plan for creating a “Greater Israel” through the colonisation of the West Bank is crystal clear from an interview that Dov Weisglass, a key advisor to Ariel Sharon and who played a crucial role in persuading the Bush administration to support the Gaza disengagement plan, gave to the Israeli daily Ha’aretz. The Gaza disengagement plan, explained Weisglass, was aimed at freezing the peace process as a sole means of pre-empting discussion on key questions such as Palestinian refugees’ right of return, final borders, the status of Jerusalem and the emergence of an independent Palestinian state. This is how he put it:
“The significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process. And when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state”. He added, “Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails has been removed indefinitely from our agenda”.
This Israeli plan has the full backing of the US administration as well as of the British government. Thus, while still continuing hypocritically to pay lip service to the “Road Map”, which supposedly enshrines Palestinian statehood and George W Bush’s “vision for peace”, the Zionists are busy, with the full backing of Anglo-American, especially American, imperialism, in giving it a long-overdue burial.
The Gaza disengagement plan, along with the apartheid wall Israel is constructing around three discontinuous Palestinian cantons in the West Bank, is aimed at securing for Israel the lion’s share of the West Bank – leaving Israel in control of 90% of historic Palestine and the Palestinian people prisoners in little bantustans, cut off from each other and Gaza. If with these measures Israeli Zionism and imperialism alike hope to pacify the Palestinian people, they are cruelly mistaken. On the contrary, these acts are bound to further inflame Palestinian and wider Arab opinion; they are bound to stiffen the resolve of the Palestinian and wider Arab masses to wage a relentless struggle against US imperialism and its protégé – Israeli Zionism. In fact, so provocative are the Israeli plans and actions that even the FT, in its leading article of 26 August 04, condemned the Bush administration’s endorsement of this “new violation of international law” as “inflammatory and irresponsible”.
Palestinians for their part, having taken due notice of imperialist-Zionist plans, have intensified their resistance, giving warning with the Beersheba bombing that Zionism’s crimes will not go unpunished. In almost simultaneous bus attacks, for which Hamas claimed responsibility, 16 people were killed and 100 wounded. True to form, Israel perversely sought to use these attacks to justify the construction of the apartheid wall and the daily raids and incursions into the occupied territories. A week after the Beersheba attacks, Israeli forces killed 13 people and wounded 30 in Gaza City on 7 September in an attack on a training camp belonging to Hamas. In an outpouring of grief, 80,000 Palestinians joined the funeral procession. Ahmed Qurei, the Palestinian prime minister, issued a statement, saying “… I am sure there will be responses and such responses will be justified”. In its statement, Hamas declared: “This ugly Israeli crime … will not pass unpunished”.
On 28 September, Israel launched its biggest ever invasion of the Jabalya district in Gaza, ostensibly to stop the area being used as a base for Palestinian rocket attacks into Israel. The following day, as if to prove the futility of Israeli attempts, Qassam Rockets fired by Hamas killed 2 children in the Israeli border town of Sderot. Over recent months, the Israeli army has demolished scores of houses in northern Gaza in an attempt to deprive the resistance of cover for launching rocket and mortar attacks. However, the attempt has failed utterly. Rocket attacks, in the words of Hamas, will stop “only if the Zionist enemy stops all acts of aggression against our people everywhere”.
In its impotent rage the Israeli army went on a rampage. During two of its days in Jabalya, it indulged in unrestrained death and destruction; it killed at least 150 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and a quarter of them children; it demolished scores of houses, rendering hundreds of people homeless. All this savage brutality proved useless against the Palestinian resistance, which continued to fire rockets into Israel.
During the four years of the Intifada, the resistance has fired approximately 4,000 rockets into Israel. Although very few Israelis have been killed by these rockets because of their inaccuracy, they nevertheless have the effect of keeping the Israeli population in the border region on edge, exercising a traumatising effect on it and reminding it that there will be no peace and security for the Israelis as long as there is no peace, security and justice for the Palestinian people.
Egyptian resorts bombed
Meanwhile, Israeli barbarity has incensed public opinion and provoked anger among the Arab masses. It is a measure of the outrage felt by the Arabs everywhere that, on 7 October, 30 people were killed and 160 wounded (most of them Israeli tourists) in bombings at resorts in Sinai – across the border from Israel. The Hilton Hotel at Taba and two beach complexes at the resort of Ras a-Satan were the target. In the former case, a ten-story wing of the hotel was levelled when two suicide bombers drove a truck packed with explosives into the front of the building.
While Hamas and Islamic Jihad denied involvement in these bombings, a group calling itself ‘Islamic Unity Brigades’ claimed responsibility in a statement on an Islamist website, which said that the “blows will not stop until those infidels are driven out of the land of Islam”. The statement went on to criticise the “collaborator Egyptian regime” for opening its country to “every infidel and debauchee”.
Clearly, one of the targets of the attackers was the hated relations between Egypt and Israel. Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel continues to be deeply resented by the Egyptian masses. Sadat, who as Egyptian president concluded this treaty, was duly rewarded for his treachery when he fell in a hail of bullets at a military parade in Cairo in 1981.
Thanks to the brutal colonisation of Palestine, the Israelis find themselves in a position where they are neither safe in Israel nor abroad.
Attempt to hide defeat
At least part of the reason for the evacuation of Gaza lies in the fact that in the face of heroic Palestinian resistance, it has become indefensible. The cost – material and human – of defending 7,000 nutters surrounded by 1.3 million Palestinians, has become unbearable for the Zionist authorities. However, they do not want to appear to evacuate Gaza under a hail of Palestinian bullets, thus giving the impression that they have been driven out at gunpoint from the territory – just as the Israeli armed forces were forced out of Lebanon by the resistance movement Hisbollah. So the Israeli army has been busy killing militant leaders in Gaza through ‘targeted’ assassinations and terrorising its inhabitants in an effort to create a ‘peaceful’ background for the departure of the settlers. In view of this, it comes as no surprise that, as the Israeli parliament prepared on 25 October to begin the debate on the future of Gaza, the Israeli army entered Khan Younis, in the south of the territory, and killed 11 Palestinians and wounded 50.
In preparation for the impending evacuation, Israel attempted to incite civil war in Gaza through its stooges, notably Mohamed Dahlan, former head of the security forces in Gaza. This trusted stooge of Israeli Zionism and US imperialism, on the pretext of fighting alleged corruption and nepotism in the Palestinian Authority (PA), and accusing the latter of refusal to reform the PA security services, and, be it noted, its failure to crack down on suicide bombers, instigated a revolt against the PA on the weekend of 16/18 July. During this short-lived revolt, the rebellious elements burned down a military intelligence building and a gun battle erupted in the district of Rafah. The sole purpose of this desperate action was to enable the agents of Zionism and US imperialism to wrest control of the Gaza Strip ahead of the Israeli withdrawal and thus make the territory safe for Israel – in the process unseating the PA headed by President Arafat. The grin was wiped off the face of Israeli Zionism as the rebellion fizzled out.
It is interesting to note that this short-lived counter-revolutionary attempt at ousting the PA from Gaza was greeted with gloating not only by Zionism and its imperialist masters, but also by their ‘left’ lackeys in the centres of imperialism. In this context, we cannot help mentioning Robert Clough, one of the leading Trotskyists of the Revolutionary Communist Group (RCG). Writing in the August-September issue of his group’s bi-monthly, FRFI, Robert Clough waxed ecstatic over the outbreak of the above-mentioned Zionist-inspired rebellion, characterising it as an expression of the Palestinian people’s struggle against the allegedly corrupt and treacherous Arafat-led PA. Within days, if not hours, the counter-revolutionary essence of this revolt was laid bare for even the most prejudiced minds not to see through its nature. So, in the following issue (Oct-Nov) of FRFI, Clough was obliged to admit that the events of mid-July in Gaza “… were orchestrated by Mohamed Dahlan, long a US and Zionist favourite within the ranks of the PA”, who “proclaimed Sharon’s plan as a victory for the Palestinian people … in order to justify his collaboration with it”. But, says Clough, Dahlan’s “… attempt to jump on the anti-corruption bandwagon and launch a bid for power failed when Qurei withdrew his resignation”, adding hilariously, almost self-mockingly, that the “… irony was not lost on the many Palestinians”, for Dahlan is a millionaire through ” a monopoly on petrol”, “a monopoly acquired from his former role as head of Gaza Security forces”.
What needs to be emphasised is that Dahlan was not the only one who jumped on the “anti-corruption bandwagon” to discredit the PA; so did Robert Clough and, presumably, the RCG. The irony surrounding the events in Gaza may not have been lost on the Palestinians, it was certainly lost on Robert Clough, who in his characteristic Trotskyite zeal to condemn the PA clasped with joy the opportunity to clamber on “the anti-corruption bandwagon”. For our part, we welcome his humiliation at the turn of events, as well as his shamefaced attempt to distance himself from his earlier shameful endorsement of the Gaza rebellion.
Resistance bound to succeed
Sharon has been able to get his Gaza disengagement plan through the Israeli parliament, thanks to the support of the Israeli Labour Party. This by no means is a harbinger of peace. The Palestinian people know that they will succeed through continued resistance alone. On 1st November, a Palestinian suicide bomber struck at Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market, killing three and injuring 30 people. The responsibility for the bombing, carried out by a 16-year-old youth from a refugee camp in the West Bank town of Nablus, was claimed by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). A leading member of the PFLP’s political leadership, Raba’ Mhanna, said that the bombing was intended to emphasise the right of the Palestinian people to resist Israeli occupation. He called upon the Israelis to “…bear responsibility for the practices of their government”, adding that they will have “… no security as long as we have no security”.
The bombing clearly demonstrates that Israeli defensive measures, including the construction of the apartheid wall, are futile in the face of determined Palestinian resistance, which will continue to drive gaping holes through all such security barriers. In the words of a prominent Israeli peace activist “anyone who believes that a wall will succeed in stopping suicide attacks might as well rely on the amulets of Kabbalist rabbis”. One could express oneself no better. The Palestinian national liberation struggle is unstoppable. It is bound to be victorious.