As I write these lines on the morning of Sunday, September 25, Israeli airplanes continue to attack Gaza. Israel has been attacking Gaza since yesterday afternoon causing many injuries, especially after an attack on the al Akram school. The Israeli army has been deployed with heavy artillery near the Gaza strip once again and Israeli aircraft have shot missiles at two cars in the neighbourhood of Al-Zaitun, killing four members of Hamas earlier on Saturday morning.
Only a few days ago, Sharon had declared at the UN that this was the end of the occupation of the Gaza strip and that there would be “no basis to the claim that the Gaza Strip is occupied land”. According to international law, under the Fourth Geneva Convention (which Israel partially recognizes), the occupier is responsible for the welfare of the occupied civilians and must provide them with basic services such as water, education, and health.
Sharon’s actions show that in reality Israel continues to occupy Gaza. In effect Gaza is surrounded by Israeli military and can be bombed anytime they want. But as they are technically not “occupying” territory inside Gaza now they have the added advantage that they do not have the responsibility of having to provide the occupied civilians with even the minimum services it was obliged to provide as a recognized occupier.
The new vicious circle of clashes began on Friday when Hamas held a military parade in Gaza. Thousands watched the dozens of fighters, armed with rifles and other weapons marching in the streets.
This happened one day after the leader of the Palestinian Authority, Abu Mazen, had met with leaders of the various Palestinian factions in the Strip who agreed to stop holding military parades – an agreement which was supposed to come into effect on Saturday.
At the demonstration on Friday a jeep carrying armed men suddenly exploded. The explosion occurred just as one of the main leaders of Hamas, Ismail Haniya, was to speak before the crowd. At least 19 people died and 80 others, among them many children, were wounded.
Hamas blamed Israeli air strikes for the blast. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told AFP "an Israeli drone fired several rockets at a convoy of cars participating in the parade, creating a large number of martyrs and injured. This is an abominable Israeli crime." Israel however, denied any responsibility for the explosions.
Fatah, the faction of Mahmoud Abbas has officially blamed Hamas for the blast. In an official statement, Fatah declared that, “The Fatah Central Committee holds the Hamas movement fully responsible for the victims of the military parade (that was held) among civilians."
Haaretz reported on Sunday that Abbas was "dumbfounded, pained and shocked" by the casualties at the Hamas rally. "What happened yesterday is what we always feared would happen, and what we always warned against," he said, referring to repeated appeals to gunmen not to exhibit their weapons in public. "Today, we are required more than ever to end this tragedy that resulted from chaos and military parades in residential areas," he said. (Haaretz, September 25, 2005)
However, during a press conference a few hours later, Hamas officials Nizar Rian and Ahmed Randur stated that the rockets displayed during the rally were dummies that did not contain explosives. The two men blasted the PA for blaming Hamas for the attacks. Nizar Rayan then showed reporters an electronic device that had been found in the debris with English on it as further evidence of an Israeli attack.
Aljezeera.net reports that “Speaking to Aljazeera, Hamas representative in Beirut Osama Hamdan said tens of Palestinian have seen with their own eyes the Israeli missiles falling down, and expressed dismay over the official statements issued by the Palestinian Authority which attributed the matter to an explosion resulting from an "internal error" just minutes after the incident.”
This is not the first time that Hamas has said that Israel was behind an attack and that the PA has denied it. Six people were killed earlier this month in Gaza City when a Hamas weapons warehouse exploded. Hamas blamed Israel for the attack, but Palestinian security officials said the blast was an accident caused by Hamas fighters themselves who had mishandled the explosives.
It is not very difficult to understand the PA’s motivation for contradicting Hamas. "There is absolutely no excuse to parade weapons in the streets," Palestinian National Security Adviser Jibril Rajoub said on Friday (had it been the forces of the PA parading in the streets he would have a different point of view of course).
We cannot, of course, be sure what happened on Friday. However, it is clear that the Israeli government is seeking a confrontation. On Friday, Israel killed three members of the Islamic Jihad in Tul Karem, in the West Bank. In retaliation for both attacks, rockets were fired on Saturday from the Gaza Strip on the town of Sderoth in southern Israel wounding five Israelis, in what was the biggest attack of its kind since the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. Israel immediately moved its army and attacked Gaza.
This time the PA Minister of Information, Nabil Shaath, had to admit that it was an "act of criminal aggression". He said that Sharon’s government was trying to destroy the hudna – the temporary ceasefire in place since February.
Israel imposed a total curfew on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and promised, “to crush Hamas” after the rocket barrage on Sderoth. On Saturday, Israeli warplanes flew over the city emitting white smoke causing panic among the civilian population.
Why is Israel doing this, after having made so much noise about its “withdrawal from Gaza”? because it is in the interests of the Israeli government to ignite the fires of conflict once again. It is not only a question of the internal struggle within the ruling Likud party, between the supporters of Benjamin Netanyahu and Sharon. Sharon knows from his long experience that the spilling of blood can serve him very well indeed. It can be used to convince the Israeli population of the need for a so-called “strong government” and thus try and maintain the Likud in office.
This latest round of bombings of the Gaza Strip shows how false is the idea that the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the area was in any way a step towards solving the decades long dispute between Israel and the Palestinians. While they pulled out of Gaza, they continued to tighten their grip on the West Bank, by continuing the building of the “wall” and by dividing up the land of the Palestinian Authority into small parcels surrounded by Israeli military.
So long as Israel remains a capitalist power, defending its own particular interests and those of imperialism in general, and of US imperialism in particular, there will be no real solution to the problems of the Palestinian people.
Last week, beyond the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we saw how the British army destroyed the walls of the central jail in Basra with tanks, in order to release two British solders that had been arrested after they were caught dressed as Arabs and carrying explosives. They did this without any regard for the lives of ordinary Iraqis.
Thus we can ask the question: who are the terrorists here? These incidents show that the imperialists know very well that terror serves their aims. They use terror in an attempt to cow the masses. Of course their “terror” is presented as keeping order or defending “democracy”. When the downtrodden and oppressed respond with violence then they are dubbed as terrorists. They have realized that it is not a bad idea to orchestrate such terrorist attacks, and then use them for their own ends. It all comes in very useful in their immense propaganda machine.
As we have said many times before the imperialists’ so-called “war on terror” is simply another way of terrorising the workers, the unemployed, the urban poor and the poor peasants around the world. It is their way of saying, “we are the bosses, we decide what happens anywhere in the world, and if you don’t like this we reserve the right to bomb you to pieces.” But sooner or later all this will lead to a huge backlash on the part of the masses.A movement will sweep across the Middle East that will wake up the whole world. Ordinary working people cannot live like this forever. There are stirrings in Egypt, in Tunisia, in Morocco, in Iran and even within Israel itself. While they bomb poor Palestinians they are also cutting back on pensions, education, health care and so on. It is merely a question of time before all this comes together.