- There is no horror, no cruelty, sacrilege, or perjury, no imposture, no infamous transaction, no cynical robbery, no bold plunder or shabby betrayal that has not been or is not daily being perpetrated by the representatives of the states, under no other pretext than those elastic words, so convenient and yet so terrible: “for reasons of state”. ~ Mikhail Bakunin, Federalism, Socialism, Anti-Theologism, 1867
After six days of Israeli bombardment, aid agencies say that Gazans are facing a humanitarian crisis with air strikes causing severe problems in getting food, medicine and fuel supplies to the besieged civilian population. The assessment, by several international relief organisations, contradicts the statement by the Israeli Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, during a visit to Paris yesterday that “there is no humanitarian crisis in the Strip, and therefore there is no need for a humanitarian truce”. ~ Gazans face ‘humanitarian crisis’ as Israeli raids intensify, Kim Sengupta, The Independent, January 1, 2009
The Israeli government’s Operation Cast Lead, begun on December 27, appears to be largely successful at this stage, with a number of Hamas leaders having been killed and much of the territory’s physical infrastructure reduced to rubble; infrastructure — such as numerous government and other ‘public’ buildings — which would serve as the foundations of a future bantustan under the control of some other political faction such as Fatah. Further, the international response (read: response on the part of foreign governments) has been overwhelmingly positive, while US support remains, as ever, rock-solid. Today, Australian Prime Minister KRUdd “called on Hamas militants to stop firing rockets into southern Israel and has urged both parties to negotiate a ceasefire… [and] is concerned by the conflict and supports efforts by the United Nations to help bring an end to fighting.” Efforts which are subject to a US veto, a right which the US has exercised on many occasions over the last few decades.
The Official Story is that Israel attacked Gaza in response to a rocket attack. In reality, the attack, sensibly enough, was planned for many months.
Sources in the defense establishment said Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the Israel Defense Forces to prepare for the operation over six months ago, even as Israel was beginning to negotiate a ceasefire agreement with Hamas. According to the sources, Barak maintained that although the lull would allow Hamas to prepare for a showdown with Israel, the Israeli army needed time to prepare, as well.
Barak gave orders to carry out a comprehensive intelligence-gathering drive which sought to map out Hamas’ security infrastructure, along with that of other militant organizations operating in the Strip.
This intelligence-gathering effort brought back information about permanent bases, weapon silos, training camps, the homes of senior officials and coordinates for other facilities.
The plan of action that was implemented in Operation Cast Lead remained only a blueprint until a month ago, when tensions soared after the IDF carried out an incursion into Gaza during the ceasefire to take out a tunnel which the army said was intended to facilitate an attack by Palestinian militants on IDF troops [November 5, 2008: “A four-month ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza was in jeopardy today after Israeli troops killed six Hamas gunmen in a raid into the territory”].
On November 19, following dozens of Qassam rockets and mortar rounds which exploded on Israeli soil, the plan was brought for Barak’s final approval. Last Thursday, on December 18, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak met at IDF Kiryat headquarters in central Tel Aviv to approve the operation.
However, they decided to put the mission on hold to see whether Hamas would hold its fire after the expiration of the ceasefire. They therefore put off bringing the plan for the cabinet’s approval, but they did inform Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni of the developments.
The response in Australia to this latest chapter in the Middle East peace process has been predictable. Thus on the one hand, the Australian Jewish News reports:
Australians rally in support of Israel
January 5, 2009
HUNDREDS of people gathered in Melbourne’s centre on Sunday to show solidarity with Israel and to condemn terrorism.
Speakers including Labor MP Michael Danby, Liberal Senator Mitch Fifield and Jewish community representatives made it clear that it is the noted terrorist organisation, Hamas, that has brought about the current violence.
Senator Fifield said: “Israel is under attack. Not from the Palestinian people. Not from the Palestinian Authority. But from Hamas.
“Hamas in Gaza cannot claim to have been resisting an occupier. Let us remember that Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005.
“Despite this, Israel has come under attack on an almost daily basis from rockets fired by terrorists linked to Hamas. More than 3000 rockets in 2008 alone.”
The rally was organised by the Australian Liberal Students’ Federation and supported by the Zionist Council of Victoria. It attracted a 700-strong crowd of young and old supporters of Israel.
Many waved flags, both Israeli and Australian, and almost all were dressed in the blue and white colours of Israel’s flag.
Danby, a long-time public advocate for Israel, told the crowd that the current violence will stop only when Hamas stop firing rockets from Gaza…
While on the other hand, wsws.org announces:
Australian demonstrations show solidarity with Palestinian people
By our correspondents
January 5, 2009
Just hours after the first media reports of the launch of the Israeli ground assault on the Gaza Strip, protests in Australia’s major cities of Melbourne and Sydney drew thousands into the streets to condemn the Zionist state and show solidarity with the besieged Palestinian people…
(On the third hand, the Committee for the Dismantling of Zionism explains ‘How to dismantle Zionism in a few easy steps’!)
Prior to the bombing and invasion, the AIJAC re-published a brief essay by Jeffrey White, ‘IDF Military Action in Gaza: Options and Implications’ (PolicyWatch, No. 1442, December 18, 2008). “The military plans under consideration probably envision three basic scenarios”: first, the resumption of previous policy; secondly, “a larger but still relatively limited operation, with deeper and longer penetration into the Strip”.
…The third option would be a large, multiple brigade- or division-level operation with equivalent, stepped-up action by other forces, involving deep if not complete penetration of the Strip, with the intention of breaking Hamas’s military power and weakening its grip on Gaza. This could involve prolonged occupation of at least some territory, and extensive efforts to rake out terrorist organizations and their infrastructure. Although the most challenging from a military standpoint, this kind of operation would offer the best prospects for long-term security improvements in southern Israel. Of course, this option would entail the greatest political complications and risks, and could lead to an escalation of military tensions with Hizballah in Lebanon. It would also require a clearly defined exit strategy.
Current discussions in Israel seem to be focusing on larger operations, rather than a return to the status quo prior to the ceasefire.
See also : Kill for peace : “Operation Cast Lead” (December 28, 2008) | Peace process surges further ahead (January 3, 2009) | Gaza (The Guardian) | ei: The Electronic Intifada | Antony Lowenstein
The Gaza slaughter: Europe’s hand is bloodied too | International anarchist communist statement
Joint international anarchist communist statement on the situation in Israel/Palestine, signed by the Federazione dei Comunisti Anarchici (Italy), Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front (South Africa), Common Cause (Ontario, Canada) and Members of Anarchists Against the Wall (Israel).
Hundreds of dead and thousands of injured, sacrificed on the altar of Zionist expansionism and fundamentalism. In Europe, the foreign ministers of every EU country talk about an “exaggerated”, though “legitimate”, reaction on the part of Israel, reversing the true situation with an operation that would make the most cynical illusionist feel proud by making the aggressor, the State of Israel, appear to be the victim.
They continue to pretend that they do not remember that Gaza – one of the most densely-populated regions with around one and a half million inhabitants, about half of whom are children – has been the object of a total embargo for years, an embargo which includes medicines and basic necessities and which is supported by the entire “civilized” western world, imposed by Israel and the West as a result of the Hamas election victory, thanks to the mixed electoral system of majority and proportional representation. Just as they pretend to forget that Hamas was once financed by Israel as a way of countering the PLO.
Despite a 6-month truce, the embargo was not even slightly relaxed and not one of the Western powers even timidly suggested relaxing it. The State of Israel has returned to its strategy of military control over Gaza and the West Bank. All Europe’s useless, hypocritical proclamations of a desire for peace systematically forget to mention that for 60 years Israel has been blithely violating countless UN resolutions and continues to occupy the territory militarily, with Israeli colonies spreading throughout Palestinian land day by day, building walls that segregate entire villages and prevent millions of refugees from returning to their land, uprooting olive groves and killing livestock, day after day humiliating anyone who tries to cross the segregation walls in order to go to work, to hospital or to school.
And not only that: they hide the fact that the truce was broken by the Israeli State on 4th November 2008 when its army killed a 22-year-old Hamas militant.
But aside from the false, hypocritical proclamations of pacifism, what is the reason for this unconditional support for such an aggressive, warmongering State by practically every major Western power?
As far as the USA is concerned, there is no doubt. Apart from the important strategic and territorial alliance that Israel represents for American imperialism in the Middle East, it also has to deal with the powerful US pro-Israel lobby, which is strong enough to bring about an influence on US foreign policy. And what is happening today comes across as a clear warning to the president-elect, Obama.
Europe has partially regained its unity on foreign policy and is probably playing the card of active diplomacy in order to strengthen its role in the Mediterranean and to warn the USA that it cannot act alone in the Mare Nostrum area. But one must not forget arms sales, an area where States are always ready to hide the truth under the blanket of “State secrets” and support the orders of those companies who produce arms and support systems. And these businesses are never biased. They are quite happy to sell arms to opposing parties, as long as they can pay for them. Italy, for example, is one of the biggest arms suppliers to Iran and Lebanon, but has also supplied the Israeli army for years with arms technology through companies like Oto-Melara, Beretta, Borletti and Selenia. And the other countries in Europe do likewise.
Palestine is cynically used as an experimentation ground for deadly new technologies which are increasingly specialising in “urban warfare” and in which every arms company is interested: from US and Israeli companies to English, French, German, Italian, and so on.
So, in this tortured land where men, women and children, crushed by the wargames of the powerful, seem to have no future, new arms are tested, from cluster bombs to impoverished uranium bullets, the effectiveness of UAVs (pilotless aircraft) – able to launch remote controlled missiles – is studied, Achzarit tanks able to withstand landmines are experimented, Namer armoured vehicles with Continental Motors (US) or MTU (German) engines are tested, as is the efficacy of avant-garde systems such as Italian added protection and remote-controlled turrets mounted on Puma armoured vehicles, and Alenia’s futuristic robotic war systems such as Sky-X, the first system in the world able to refuel pilotless aircraft in flight.
All this on the shoulders of a people who have always been used in clashes between States and others, cynically used even in the political clashes between the internal factions of one State, as in the case of Israeli political machinations connected with the electoral struggle both within the governing coalition between the hawkish Kadima, responsible for some of the most extreme acts – like the evacuation of the Strip proposed by the MK Yisrael Hasson – on the one hand and the Labour doves, in favour of a more measured approach, on the other, and between Kadima and the Likud super-hawks, increasingly moving towards ultra hardline positions.
We certainly do not expect the Arab and/or Islamic States to do anything, divided as they are or intent on strengthening their prestige and their influence in the area, even if it comes at the cost of the Palestinian people. Like the case of Iran, that uses the Palestinian tragedy to publicise itself as the only bulwark against the hated American imperialism and set itself up as the emerging power in the region.
But beyond all the international political conjecturing, the situation of the Palestinian population today seems bleak, with few prospects for reaching a solution that can give them a chance for a life with even a minimum of dignity, both from the point of view of social security and from that of guaranteeing respect of the minimum rights of survival.
Today perhaps the only guarantee that the Palestinian people may, as quickly as possible, find even a little respite and peace is that the marauders of all shapes and sizes – physically or ideologically thronging at their borders, or engaging in political speculation inside – reach a new, precarious balance.
The only real prospect for emancipation that we can glimpse in the near future is a growth and spread of the sort of self-organisation that many Palestinian villages practise, encouraged by the solidarity between Palestinian popular committees and initiatives such as Anarchists Against the Wall, involving internationalists from all over the world and anti-Zionist Israelis, who fight the arrogance of the Israeli settler colonists and the army that supports them using prevalently peaceful resistance. And it is not by chance that in these villages another road has been chosen and not the militarism of Hamas.
As class-struggle anarchists and libertarians we will continue to denounce Zionist settler colonialismm as we denounce all forms of imperialism and fundamentalism that oppress the liberty and dignity of every people. We will go on denouncing the fact that huge swathes of the world’s proletariat suffer under the oppression and misery that results from inter-imperialist clashes and the cynical political games of powerful local oligarchs who are in turn used, knowingly or unknowingly, as pawns in the international chessboard of imperialist disputes, marked with the blood of the proletariat.
We will continue to support the struggles and act of solidarity with the Palestinian people, supporting all those embryonic manifestations of self-determination that typify the struggles of whole villages in Palestine, convinced that only if they can free themselves of the malicious influences of all State or para-State oligarchies can the working men and women begin to hope for a more dignified life.