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Gaza, Great Return March 2018

Gaza, Great Return March 2018. Photo: Hosny Salah / Pixabay

The latest upsurge of resistance to the Zionist state demands the support of anti-imperialists and socialists everywhere, writes Sean Ledwith

At the time of writing, over 120 Palestinians, including 31 children in Gaza and the West Bank have been killed in a wave of high-tech airborne attacks by the fourth most powerful military force on the planet. 8 Israeli civilians have killed by antiquated  missile strikes launched by Hamas militants. 90% of the latter weapons are intercepted and neutralised by Israel’s Iron Dome defence shield, supplied by the US as part of the $3.8 billion per year funding of its key imperial watchdog in the Middle East.

The asymmetrical nature of this conflict is deliberately and systematically underplayed by both the political establishment in the West and the mainstream media. An escalation of the conflict would not be a war between equals – it would be a massacre of innocents with the Arab populations of Gaza and the West Bank bearing the brunt of casualties.

Blockade

The Palestinian population of Gaza – 2 million people crammed into a strip of land 25 miles long and 5 miles across – have no such Iron Dome and are forced to seek shelter in the basements of their homes. Gazans are already enduring the thirteenth year of a blockade by the Israeli state which has cut off crucial food, water and electricity supplies.

Despite this total mismatch of capabilities, politicians in the West are predictably responding to the crisis by prioritising Israel’s supposed right to self-defence and ignoring the decades-long discrimination and oppression the Palestinians have endured at the hands of the Israeli state. Joe Biden stated this week: "Israel has a right to defend itself when you have thousands of rockets flying into your territory."

Self-determination

True to form of all senior US politicians, Biden is completely misreading the reality of the situation. The Palestinians have the absolute right to defend themselves against the occupying and overwhelming power of the Israeli military machine. United Nations resolution 37/43, from  December 1982,

"reaffirms the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples for independence, territorial integrity and endorses armed struggle for peoples who seek self-determination under colonial and foreign domination."

Furthermore, the preamble to this resolution makes it explicit that this refers directly to the situation in the Middle East:

"Considering that the denial of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination, sovereignty, independence and return to Palestine and the repeated acts of aggression by Israel against the peoples of the region constitute a serious threat to international peace and security."

Provocation

The most recent upsurge was sparked by the demolition last week of Palestinian homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of East Jerusalem, authorised by the Israeli courts and fuelled by the expansionist demands of far right Jewish settlers. Israeli police then set up barricades at the Damascus Gate entrance of the Old City where Muslim worshippers were congregating as part of Ramadan celebrations.

The provocation of the Palestinians was ramped even further when the Israeli Defence Force deployed stun grenades and pepper spray to break into the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Temple Mount, the third holiest shrine of Islam. As the mosque started to burn, Palestinians had to endure the image of some Zionists settlers cheering on the fire.

Nakba 73

The current conflagration shows all the signs of repeated the tragedy of 2014 when an Israeli ground invasion of Gaza killed 2,200 civilians, including 500 children. The asymmetrical nature of this conflict was similarly demonstrated in 2018-19 when hundreds of unarmed Palestinians, civilians and medics were gunned down in the Great March of Return protests.

The people of Palestine have been on the frontline of a global struggle against the forces of imperialism and neoliberalism for decades and deserve our total support in the face of an enemy which has always targeted the most vulnerable with a pitiless disregard for human life.

This weekend the Palestinians will be marking the 73rd anniversary of the 1948 Nakba and the systematic theft of their land with the connivance of the Western powers. Until that historic injustice is addressed, blood will continue to flow in the region.

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Sean Ledwith

Sean Ledwith

Sean Ledwith is a Counterfire member and Lecturer in History and Sociology at York College, where he is also UCU branch secretary. Sean is also a regular contributor to Marx and Philosophy Review of Books and Culture Matters

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