View from the blockaded Gaza strip, close to the separation barrier View from the blockaded Gaza strip, close to the separation barrier.

Michael Lavalette argues that the present break out has its roots in growing destructive attacks on the Palestinians in Jerusalem and the West Bank 

Early this morning (Saturday 7 October) Palestinian fighters launched a significant ‘break out’ attack on Israel. Thousands of rockets were launched against Israel and Palestinian fedayeen broke out of Gaza and entered the Israeli settlements of Ashkelon and Sderot, both situated just north of Gaza.

The breakout was in response to the regular incursions by Israeli settlers into the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Al Aqsa is Islam’s third holiest site, yet over recent months Israeli settlers have entered to mosque and desecrated the area. This has been done under the protection of Israeli military forces and is a clear and deliberate provocation. Settlers have also increased their violent attacks on Palestinian civilians across the West Bank. The town of Hawarra has faced a number of violent pogroms. In Nablus settlers have appeared in the city provoking and attacking Palestinians, especially near the site of ‘Joseph’s Tomb’. In Jenin and Tulkarem destructive assaults have taken place on refugee camps, killing and injuring Palestinians and bulldozing homes.

Deliberate provocations

The Gaza Strip itself is subjected to regular air assault. It is a beleaguered 22 mile long, encircled enclave, held under siege conditions by Israeli military forces. It is akin to an open prison, holding over 2 million people is desperate poverty and despair. These deliberate provocations have taken place with the tacit support of Israel’s current extreme right-wing government under the leadership of Netanyahu. Their brutality and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians is the cause of the present Palestinian response.

Since 2007 the Gaza Strip has effectively been run by Hamas. It is subject to regular, brutal attack from land, sea and air from Israel. This morning’s break out represents the first time in decades that Palestinian fighters have pushed beyond their restrictive enclaves. The Hamas leadership has effectively declared ‘this far and no further’ and has called for a generalised uprising against the colonial state.

In response, Israel has declared a war footing and called up reservists. The next few days will have a huge impact on the future of the Palestinian freedom struggle. The pictures of young people celebrating on top of a captured Israeli tank will encourage resistance by Palestinians and those in the Palestinian solidarity movement across the globe. For those of us committed to the cause of Palestinian liberation we need to organise now for demonstrations in support and solidarity with the Palestinians communities of Gaza and the West Bank.

Freedom for Palestine!

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