Israel has initiated a new war on the Palestinians in the Gaza strip writes Alex Snowdon
Israel's new assault on Gaza began on Wednesday with the assassination of a Hamas leader. It is the most serious attack on Gaza since Operation Cast Lead, which began on 27 December 2008 and lasted three weeks, leaving over 1400 people dead.
At the time of writing, 15 Palestinians are reported dead. This is expected to grow. A sustained, all-out assault by Israel is now regarded as a serious prospect.
No 'even-handed conflict'
Israel claims to be retaliating for rockets being fired from Gaza. There have been border tensions for a number of weeks. But Israel's violence is utterly disproportionate to any action by Hamas and is inevitably resulting in civilian casualties.
The BBC, like much of the Western media, has chosen to focus on the deaths of three Israelis - in the town of Kiryat Milachi - over the greater number of Palestinian dead. This reflects a longstanding bias which involves presenting a supposedly even-sided conflict, obscuring the massive imbalances of force between the hugely well-funded, powerful Israeli state and Palestinian resistance fighters.
Gaza is in an ongoing state of siege, its 1.7 million people suffering the brutal effects of Israel's economic blockade. Israel is acknowledged, by the UN and other international agencies, to be an occupying power in relation to Gaza - as it controls Gaza's territorial waters and airspace, and doesn't allow any movement of goods in or out of Gaza by air or by sea.
Western support for Israel
William Hague, British foreign secretary, has declared that Hamas is responsible for violence, claiming it bears "principal responsibility for the current crisis". This grossly misrepresents the situation, but will be no surprise to anyone familiar with successive British governments' strong alliance with Israel.
Where Israel is concerned, Britsh ministers can of course be relied upon to turn a blind eye to atrocities.
This follows David Cameron's recent trip to the Gulf, which saw the prime minister seeking to justify arms deals with brutally repressive regimes, while condemning the state violence in Syria. Together with the US, the British government is intervening in Syria by playing a central role in engineering the new Syrian opposition council.
The Obama administration has, unsurprisingly, backed Israel's use of "self-defence" in relation to Gaza. Israel remains a recipient of large amounts of US 'aid', primarily in the form of military spending.
Mohamed Morsi, president of Egypt (which borders Gaza), has condemned Israel's aggression, expressed "solidarity" with the people of Gaza, and withdrawn Egypt's ambassador to Israel. Several other countries in the region have condemned Israel's violence.
Protests are being organised worldwide, to oppose Israel's actions and the threat of a new war in the Middle East. Today's protest at the Israeli Embassy in London was one of many planned for Israeli embassies across the globe. In the UK, there are already many local demonstrations announced for the next couple of days.
For us, expressing solidarity with Gaza must be accompanied by unequivocal opposition to our own government's ongoing support for Israel - and its efforts to intervene in the Middle East.
Alex Snowdon is a Counterfire activist in Newcastle. He is active in the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Stop the War Coalition and the National Education Union.
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