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Palestine demonstration, London, 13 May

Palestine demonstration, London, 13 May. Photo: Alia Butt

Western imperialism is allowing Israel to bomb and lynch Palestinians with impunity, it's our job to stand up and resist, argues Shabbir Lakha

In recent weeks we have seen a serious escalation in the violence being perpetrated against the Palestinians by the Israeli state.

It began with the evictions of Palestinians in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of East Jerusalem. Palestinian families have been forced out of their homes so that settlers can take possession. This recent round of evictions is part of an ongoing process of ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in illegally annexed East Jerusalem.

When I visited Jerusalem a few years ago, I met a Palestinian family living in the Old City whose top floor of their house had been broken into and occupied by settlers. The courts and police did nothing to help them. They have no choice but to continue living in half their house and face daily violent attacks from the settlers.

Palestinians are fed up. The Sheikh Jarrah travesty sparked protests in the area and around Jerusalem. Protesters were met with violence from the Israeli army which culminated in the raid and violent dispersal of worshippers in the Al Aqsa mosque on the last Friday of Ramadan.

In the face of brutal violence and war crimes, Palestinians nonetheless have continued to protest in growing numbers. Hundreds have been injured by the Israeli military and far right settlers.

Palestinians living inside Israel, in Jaffa, Haifa, Nazareth, Lod and other cities have also come out in unprecedented numbers to show their solidarity with Jerusalem. This is a worrying development for Israel which has tried in recent decades to break the link between Palestinians in the occupied territories and those within the ‘48 borders.

In the last 24 hours, shocking footage has surfaced of Israeli lynch mobs in Jaffa, Haifa, Akko and other cities, hunting down Palestinians, breaking into their homes and cars and brutally beating them up and smashing up Palestinian-owned businesses. In response, Netanyahu has said the Israeli state will begin using administrative detention - a widely-used practice against Palestinians in the West Bank of detaining an individual without trial or evidence for an indefinite period of time - against Palestinians in Israeli cities for protesting.

The violence has also escalated significantly after Israel used rocket fire from Hamas as a pretext for beginning a bombing operation on Gaza. At the time of writing, over 80 Palestinians have been killed, at least 17 of them children.

While Hamas has said it’s prepared to agree to a ceasefire on condition of ending the aggression against Palestinians in Jerusalem, Israeli authorities are promising to “strike terror” and not stop fighting “until certain military goals are achieved”. The IDF has now said that it is preparing for the possiblity of an imminent ground invasion of Gaza.

A question of imperialism

The mainstream media continues to present this as a case of two sides “clashing”, of “Palestinian militants” being the aggressors and downplaying the massacre Israel is unleashing. One headline reported an airstrike as a building “exploding”. The BBC’s analysis of the first round of Israeli airstrikes alluded that a number of the children killed in the strike were Hamas militants.

This is in line with the mealy-mouthed statements coming from Western governments calling for “restraint” from “both sides”. The US and UK have constantly asserted Israel’s “right to self-defence” – as if one of the world’s strongest military powers is the one defending itself from those it’s occupying in the world’s biggest open-air prison.

Joe Biden and Boris Johnson are wholly complicit in Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians, and their tacit support for this latest aggression is a reminder of the nature of their relationship with Israel.

Israel was born out of the imperialist needs of Britain and then the US to maintain Western control of the Middle East. And today as the West faces defeats in its two decades-long “War on Terror” and declining influence in the Middle East, the role of Israel is even more important.

That’s why the US, and Britain as it’s junior partner, continue to give Israel billions in funding and weapons, and full political cover to carry out crimes against humanity with impunity.

You don’t need to look much further than Priti Patel’s secret trips to Israel in 2017 and her attempt to divert foreign aid money to the Israeli military in the occupied Golan Heights.

A global fightback

In the last week, there have been dozens of protests across the world in solidarity with Palestine. Despite the attempts in recent years in to conflate anti-Zionism with antisemitism, to outlaw BDS campaigns and attack Palestine solidarity activists, public support for Palestine remains strong and this week we have shown it.

Israel is showing no sign of ending its violence against Palestinians. Even when the current aggression finishes, it will continue to occupy Palestine and maintain its system of apartheid. They would not be able to do this without the backing of the West.

The liberation of Palestine is an anti-imperialist, anti-racist struggle and it has to be at the centre of our movements. The Palestinians are resisting, and it is our duty to stand in solidarity with them and do the same.

Join the demonstrations around the country this Saturday, in London assembling at Speaker's Corner, Marble Arch at 12pm and marching to the Israeli Embassy.

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Counterfire is expanding fast as a website and an organisation. We are trying to organise a dynamic extra-parliamentary left in every part of the country to help build resistance to the government and their billionaire backers. If you like what you have read and you want to help, please join us or just get in touch by emailing [email protected] Now is the time!

Shabbir Lakha

Shabbir Lakha

Shabbir Lakha is a Stop the War officer, a People's Assembly activist and a member of Counterfire.

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