On Saturday October 7, 2023 the military section of Hamas in Gaza, one of the National Liberation organizations of Palestine, initiated a military incursion inside Israel, killing many Israeli civilians. The corporate media, politicians, and some in the international community, are desperately trying to convince us that this was an “unprovoked” attack.
This characterization is so banal, simplistic, and loaded with falsehood, one could ignore the misinformation were it not for the fact that the Israeli/Palestinian conflict stems from a long history of injustice. Just this year for example, before Hamas’ military action, independent media and human rights organizations reported that over 225 Palestinians, including children, have been killed by Israeli security forces. But there’s much more; lets trace the historical background.
The Context of the Current Conflict
The genesis of the current Israeli/Palestine conflict began in 1897 when the First Zionist Congress was held in Switzerland, establishing the World Zionist Movement.
The Jews strove for their own homeland after suffering systemic anti-semitism and pogroms in Europe. The Zionists initially considered countries like Cyprus, Argentina, Uganda, and the State of Texas in the United States. However they ultimately decided on Palestine, the historic homeland of the Jews where Arabs had been living for thousands of years and now owned close to 100 percent of the land. Liberal Zionists like Achad Ha’am wanted to coexist with the Arabs but a more violent element of the Zionist settlers wanted to displace them.
In 1917, Arthur Balfour, Britain’s Foreign Minister, sent a letter to Lionel Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community, requesting “…the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” The letter further stated that Britain would “use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object.” This letter is historically known as the Balfour Declaration. The British earnestly facilitated European Jews emigration to Palestine where their population was under 30 percent.
Although the Balfour Declaration hypocritically suggested that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine;” the complete opposite was done by the settlers. The Jews used the opportunity and the conditions created by the Declaration to undermine Palestine while organizing and arming themselves, all of which became the precursor to establishing the formal State of Israel through the Nakba in 1948.
During this almost two-year siege more than 500 Palestinian villages were destroyed, over 13,000 Palestinians killed and more than 750,000 forced to flee their homes. To this day the majority of Palestinians have not and cannot return to their former homes, because Israel through its occupation and policies have prevented it. Al-Jazeera has reported that “Palestinian refugees and their descendants number more than seven million. Many still languish in refugee camps in neighbouring Arab countries, waiting to return to their homeland.”
Western powers thus helped establish the state of Israel on territory belonging to indigenous Palestinians. For 75 years the people of Palestine have experienced occupation, genocide, apartheid, ethnic cleansing, bombings, raids, wanton killings including women and children, frivolous imprisonment, torture and indefinite detention. All these atrocities can be considered to have been fueled by a Zionist ideology rooted in racism, national chauvinism, and a misguided fallacy of religious exclusivity.
In the “1967 War” Israel completed its pogrom against the Palestinian people by seizing all the remaining lands of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights.
For the next 56 years, Israel has committed terrible crimes against the local population during its continued illegal occupation of Palestine: Numerous military checkpoints; a “passbook” system of identification; separation walls; frequent military raids and operations resulting in the massacre of civilians; wanton air-raids and bombings against civilian targets; military sniper shootings of civilians; destruction of infrastructure and the destruction of olive plantations; restricting of free movement and the unification of families are a fraction of the apartheid and genocidal experience of the daily life of the Palestinian people.
National Liberation is Not Terrorism
In the attempt to splinter the Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation and undermine the secular Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), Hamas was ironically created with the support of Mossad, Israel’s national intelligence agency that works closely with the CIA.
Israel, as CAM has recently documented, continues to finance Hamas with the goal of perpetuating violent conflict. This instills fear in the Israeli population so they will support Israeli’s reigning oligarchy which increasingly exploits Israel’s working class.
While Hamas is characterized as a terrorist organization and indeed commits terrorist attacks like the Tribe of Nova massacre on October 7, many Palestinians consider it to be a liberation organization that gains further legitimacy by providing badly needed social services to the people.
Hamas’ demands, prior to and after the October 7th operation they called “Operation Al-Aqsa Flood,” are: freeing all political prisoners; respecting the sanctity of Palestinian holy sites in Jerusalem; and ending the 17-year siege on Gaza among others.
I vividly recall when the people of Gaza in 2007 elected Hamas as their organizational representative; Israel and their international collaborators, headed by the United States, decried the election results and used armed force to dissolve the results of the election and isolate Hamas.
News Click has published a short list of military atrocities carried out by the Israeli Security forces against the people of Palestine: Operation Summer Rains (June2006); Operation Autumn Clouds (October – November 2006); Operation Hot Winter (February – March 2008); Operation Cast Lead (December 2008 – January 2009); Operation Running Echo (March 2012); Operation Pillar Cloud (November 2012); Operation Protective Edge (July – August 2014); Operation Black Belt (November 2019); Operation Breaking Down (August 2022).
Included in this list should also be the massacre of 1953 in the West Bank where 69 Palestinians were killed by Israeli security forces when 45 of their houses in the village of Qibya were blown up. Who can forget in January of this year, the Israeli massacre in Jenin also in the West Bank; medical attention was severely delayed because of the presence of Security Forces snipers, and the targeting of hospitals and makeshift clinics with tear gas.
The military incursion by Hamas into Israel, is a direct result of 75 years of the illegal and immoral occupation, dehumanization, genocidal and apartheid living conditions heaped on the people of Palestine by a belligerent, fascist, and colonialist State of Israel. It is simplistically infantile, and illogical to expect that human beings so oppressed would not offer resistance, including military action; this logic lays bare the ignorance of those who call Hamas’ incursion a “surprise,” and worse, “unprovoked.”
The struggle for National Liberation and self-determination takes many forms, depending on the objective social conditions. The people of Palestine were forcibly driven from their ancestral homes; they were and continue to be subjected to atrocities, carried out by one of the most repressive regimes in the history of mankind. Resistance is inevitable and resistance is justifiable.
Israel and its media collaborators, would have us believe that only Israelis and Americans were taken hostage; but again, it’s party of the hapless “victim” strategy of Israel to garner increased support for their genocide and apartheid against Palestinians. The hostages taken are dual nationals and “citizens of more than 20 countries,” reports Al-Jazeera.
Unfortunately, in the absence of a clear and firm understanding of revolutionary theory, errors in judgment and execution will be made by revolutionary forces. At the same time the status of the enemy cannot be underestimated or overestimated; Both are extremes that can prove critical to the forward movement of the liberation struggle. Underestimation can result in adventurist actions that drowns the liberation struggle in blood unnecessarily. Overestimation can lead to in-action, political impotence and strengthens the position of the enemy. Revolutionaries have to be always aware of the advice of late Cuban President Fidel Castro; always maintain moral superiority over the enemy. The international rules of conduct surrounding military engagement must be observed and practiced.
Ethnic Cleansing Again For Gaza
On October 9, 2023 the Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, announced that Israel will impose a total blockade on Gaza. This constitutes a total siege on the already occupied and beleaguered territory, which has resulted in the cutting off of food, electricity, and water. This action is illegal under International Law as it constitutes a crime against humanity.
While Gaza has been pounded daily by air-strikes and bombings, Israel has mobilized up to 300,000 troops near the border with Gaza. On October 12, Israel issued evacuation orders for the over 1 million people living in Gaza, to move south within 24 hours or “face death.”
Gaza currently is an area of 225 square miles; it is the most densely populated area on earth, with an estimated 2.3 million residents living in what is often referred to as the largest open-air prison in the world. The evacuation order is not only cynical and condescending, but also shows the arrogance of Israel; it is also logistically impossible. You cannot move that amount of people within that time and the most important question is: “move them to where?”
The crux of the matter is that Israel is opportunistically using the current conflict as a pretext to continue and escalate its ethnic cleansing of Gaza and expand the ongoing building of settlements.
A considerable amount of Gaza’s residents are refugees or descendants of refugees who were forced out of their homes in 1948, the founding of the State of Israel. A significant number of Palestinians have been killed during this siege on Gaza, including an attack on the refugee camp in Jabalia; as reported by the Palestinian Health Ministry and the official Palestinian news agency WAFA.
Whilst meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on October 13, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas rejected the evacuation order of Israel. Al-Jazeera, TeleSur and other independent media sources have reported that President Abbas underscored the urgency for humanitarian corridors to be opened to Gaza; this will allow the restoration of water, electricity, fuel, and much needed medical supplies to reach the people of Gaza. This cutting off of Gaza worsens the already Israeli imposed 17-year blockade on Gaza.
The United States and International Hypocrisy
There have been 77 Resolutions passed by the UN General Assembly condemning the occupation, genocidal, and apartheid treatment of Israel against the people of Palestine. The United States has never voted on one, and Israel has never been held accountable for ignoring any of the Resolutions.
Ever since its retaliatory actions against Hamas and Gaza, Israel has violated several international protocols surrounding military conflicts: The bombing and air-strikes against civilian targets, including schools and hospitals; carrying out “collective punishment” operations in Gaza; and the use of white phosphorus, an agent that is banned by International Law.
None of the corporate media or reactionary politicians have condemned the use of this agent, nor do they call for Israeli accountability for using this deadly substance that burns through to the bone.
All the “frothing at the mouth” concerns regarding human rights and morality have suddenly been abandoned; Where are the calls for sanctions and the implementation of such sanctions? Where is the listing of Israel as a sponsor and perpetrator of state-sponsored terrorism?
As of October 22, 2023 the death toll in Gaza has topped 5,000 with at least 2,000 of them being children. This is unbridled barbarism by any definition and is incomparable to the Hamas’ incursion into Israel. The President of the United States, Joe Biden, reactionary politicians, and the corporate media, are complicit in the massacre and ethnic cleansing currently taking place in Gaza. Israelis are referred to as being “killed,” Palestinian deaths are referred to as “casualties.” This is the most blatant example of a racist narrative and encouragement of genocide in recent history. There is no “war with Hamas;” Israel’s intent is to wipe out Palestine and the United States’ government is complicit in this by their uncritical support of Israel and providing it with money and weapons to carry out this Zionist atrocity.
The wider international community is also complicit in the seemingly permanent subjugation of the people of Palestine; while they have given “lip” service to the rights of the Palestinian people, they have ignored enforcing any of the United Nations resolutions on Israel. They have been selective in their condemnation of human rights atrocities and violations against Palestine. The President of the European Commission, Roberta Metsola, was very emphatic last year, when she referred to Russia’s alleged attack on civilian targets in Ukraine as terror; however, everyone is now silent even in the face of documented and proven terror by Israel against Palestinians. France and Germany have banned public solidarity protests in support of the people of Palestine.
What Is To Be Done
- There needs to be a complete cease-fire by both parties in the conflict.
- Boycott, divestment, and sanction movements against Israeli apartheid and genocide need to be strengthened and expanded.
- The United States must stop its obscene financial and military support of Israel, which props up an oppressive, state-terrorist regime.
- Israel must put an end to the continued building and expansion of illegal settlements.
- Israel must withdraw all troops from occupied Palestine, return all lands stolen in the formation of the State of Israel, and all displaced Palestinians should be allowed to return to their homes.
- Palestine must organize, mobilize, and struggle for reparations from Israel to compensate for 75 years of land stealing, genocide, humanitarian, and the physical destruction of their Homeland. While no cost can be put on the human toll the Palestinians have paid in defense of their Homeland, reparations is a small moral gesture for Israel’s illegal and violent occupation of Palestine.
- The Israeli/Palestine conflict is not an issue to be solved militarily. It’s a political issue that is best resolved by a two-state solution.
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About the Author
Richard Dunn is a retired construction professional, trained in Architecture and Energy Management.
He’s been a social justice activist since 1968 and was particularly active with the Walter Rodney defense demonstrations.
Richard is an author, a contributing columnist to newspapers, an editor for a music industry magazine and operates a social justice website.
Richard can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.