The Palestinian resistance struggle which for eleven days in May endured and faced down the bombardment of Gaza, dubbed by the resistance ‘Operation al-Quds Sword’, in some respects followed a familiar pattern. Once again Zionism, armed to the teeth by America and Britain, launched murderous air strikes against the two million Palestinians inhabiting the Gaza Strip. Once again the resistance forces were materially weaker than those of the aggressor, reflected in the far higher Palestinian death toll. And once again from the UN there was the customary tut-tutting and handwringing, always with the weary background expectation that this crisis will pass, the Palestinian ‘issue’ will fade from the headlines and the world can turn over and resume its nervous slumber.
But there are clear signs that the Palestinian ‘issue’ is a millstone around the imperialist neck which refuses to be shrugged off. A straw in the wind was the admission by Zionist top brass general Aviv Kochavi that, despite the much-vaunted ‘Iron Dome’ supposedly protecting Israeli citizens, the IDF (Israeli army) were unable to prevent resistance forces from launching rockets and mortar shells thoughout Israel’s bombardment of Gaza. Kochavi warned that Israel needed to develop a long term strategy regarding Gaza and Hamas in order to achieve a ‘strategic victory’, admitting that ‘tactical victories’ (i.e., blindly lashing out) do not guarantee long term quiet (‘Army chief: Israel failed to prevent Palestinian rocket barrages’, PressTV, 13 June 2021). This is very true, but the whole logic of Zionism is driven by the need to expand and dominate: there really is no alternative strategy other than painting itself into a corner.
Speaking after Israel had clutched gratefully at a hasty ceasefire brokered by Egypt, Kochavi claimed unconvincingly that plans were afoot to do better next time: “We are planning for this. There won’t be a repeat of what has been, both in terms of our retaliations and in terms of our treatment of Hamas” (ibid.).
Hamas leader Yahya al-Sinwar by contrast was clear about the resistance strategy: “We’ve proven to Israel that somebody’s protecting al-Aqsa Mosque, which is a strategic goal for the Palestinians” (ibid.).
One difference about Operation al-Quds Sword from previous battles is that the resistance from Gaza was not limited to the defence of the two million inhabitants of the Gaza Strip but had as its strategic focus the defence of the national rights of all Palestinians, as expressed culturally in the defence of the al-Aqsa Mosque. (This development is celebrated in a recent speech by Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrullah, an edited transcript of which follows this article).
Hamas served Tel Aviv with an ultimatum: call off your police thugs and settler fanatics from attacking peaceful worshippers at al-Aqsa, stop your bulldozers from tearing down Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, or face the consequences. Hamas was as good as its word.
The resulting eleven day bombardment of Gaza took the lives of at least 260 Palestinians, including 66 children, and further appalling damage was inflicted on an infrastructure already devastated by earlier attacks and blockade. This was the heavy price that Gaza paid for daring to confront the colonial oppressor and stand firm in asserting Palestinian national rights.
But by doing so, Gaza is serving as a powerful inspiration for all Palestinians, affirming the unity of those in Gaza, those in the West Bank and – a new development – those in the rest of occupied Palestine. These latter, trapped since the Nakba in 1948 in a kind of stateless limbo, Israeli citizens on paper but colonial subjects in practice, have suddenly emerged from the shadows in a great outpouring of joy at the sight of their colonial overlords scuttling in and out of air-raid shelters as resistance rockets rain down relentlessly, proving alike the fallibility of the Iron Dome and the fragility of the phony Israeli state it is supposed to protect.
As the protests in East Jerusalem gathered pace before Operation al-Quds Sword, they were joined by Palestinians from the 1948-occupied territories. A convoy of buses carrying some of these 48ers to visit al-Aqsa was blocked by police 16 km from the Old City. Undeterred, the passengers headed off on foot, and they soon found themselves escorted into the city by local inhabitants.
Resistance forces in Gaza launched over 4,000 rockets into Israel over the eleven days, with some hitting Tel Aviv and some reaching as far north as Haifa and Nazareth. Hundreds of these missiles, some imported and some domestically produced, can be fired in the space of a minute. These missile attacks cannot be written off as just ‘a shot in the dark’. Not only were targets planned and coordinated, aimed at specific predetermined goals, but the resistance even took the controversial step of revealing some selected targets in advance to the enemy, rubbing their noses in the inability of the Iron Dome to shield the colonists even when the targets were already openly announced!
Underlying Israel’s increasing isolation and weakness when faced with an emboldened and united resistance is the failure of US imperialism to prevail in any of the wars it has initiated in the Middle East, culminating in its failure to unseat Syria’s legitimate leadership. The supposed diplomatic coup which hoped to undermine the Palestinian struggle by ‘normalising’ Israel’s relations with the UAE and Bahrain, giving Israel another lease of life, has only served to further cut the ground from under those corrupt feudal sheikhdoms themselves, bringing closer the day when they will run out of historical road and are brought low by their own incensed Arab populations. Instead it is a secular and independent Syria that has won the admiration of the Arab world and secured for its president a landslide electoral endorsement.
Rather than face up to the reality of its own bleak future, Zionism is ideologically committed to continue to pile outrage upon outrage against Palestinians, thereby courting its own destruction. Hardly pausing for breath after the ceasefire, Israel has resumed its deliberate provocations against worshippers at al-Aqsa, the demolition of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem and the daily murderous attacks against civilians.
With every new outrage, Israel is now helping to unite and mobilise a resistance struggle that does not make a distinction between Palestinians of Gaza, Palestinians of the West Bank, Palestinians of the 1948 territories or Palestinians of the diaspora. With the two-state ‘solution’ smothered at birth by Israel’s own hand, now the only way forward lies in the struggle to liberate Palestine from the river to the sea.
VICTORY TO THE INTIFADA!