[Source: nytimes.com]

Responses to the current violence in, and from, Gaza vary as follows:

  • Israeli leaders, much of the Israeli public, and Zionists in the West, thirsting for vengeance, call for genocidal mass murder and/or wholesale ethnic-cleansing operations against the people of Gaza.
  • Israel and its Western imperial allies (U.S., et al.) evade the actual causes (Palestinian grievances for which peaceful appeals for redress invariably go unanswered); and they condemn all resorts to violent resistance by the long-persecuted Palestinians.
  • Many liberal leftists, evidently obsessive to distance themselves from all U.S.-designated “terrorists” and other alleged enemies of “democracy,” always preface any condemnation of Israeli crimes against the Palestinians with an absolute condemnation of the October 7 attack against Israel by resistance forces in Gaza. Thusly, they purvey a false moral equivalence between the violence of the oppressed and that of their oppressor.
  • A few partisans of the Palestinian cause have asserted that all Israeli suffering from the October 7 attack by Gaza resistance fighters was deserved, thereby exhibiting a lack of recognition and empathy for the innocent victims thereof. In fact, innocent victims are generally inevitable in war, even in just and necessary wars, but nevertheless deserving of sympathetic recognition.
  • Consistent activists for social justice: condemn the Zionist persecution of the Palestinian people; acknowledge the right of the oppressed to resist, including by violent means when left with no viable alternative; acknowledge obvious faults and mistakes in the resistance forces; and sympathize with all innocent victims, whether deliberately targeted or unavoidably caught in the crossfire.

Unfortunately, after decades of racist distortions by Zionists and supportive imperial Western states, and given hard-to-avoid reliance upon a dominant and biased Western mainstream media, even consistent supporters of the Palestinian cause sometimes take, as fact, notions which have become generally accepted as “true” (unaware that critical investigation may disprove it). Consequently, mistakes can occur when there is rush to judgment and publication without questioning and scrutinizing so as to ascertain what are the relevant actual facts.

ROOTS OF THE CONFLICT. The current Gaza War can be fully and accurately understood only when placed in the context of Jewish and Palestinian history.

Defining Palestine. Prior to the 16th century BCE, the territory on the eastern edge of the Mediterranean was populated by small Canaanite city-states. In the 10th and 9th centuries BCE, three small kingdoms (Israel, Judah, and Philistia) occupied the territory south of the Lebanon. From the Assyrian conquest (8th century BCE) until 1917, the territory was nearly always under the rule of a succession of tributary empires, the Ottoman being the last. Throughout those centuries, various episodes of oppression and revolt, as well as opportunities in other places, resulted in a large Judean/Jewish diaspora. After the Roman Empire made trinitarian Christianity the established religion (4th century CE), the population in Palestine began increasingly to convert (from Judaism, Samaritanism, paganism, other forms of Christianity, etc.) to the established faith. Similarly, following conquest by the first Islamic empire, the population gradually began converting to Islam, until it was more than 80% Muslim by the mid-19th century. Imperial Britain, which conquered the area in 1917, was given a League of Nations Mandate over Palestine, specifically defined as the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Since then, the term “Palestine,” despite Zionist objections (that a larger expanse of land is rightfully theirs or alternatively that there is no such country as Palestine and no such people as “Palestinians”), has generally meant the Mandate territory “from the river to the sea.”

A crowd of people in a street

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Christian procession in Bethlehem c. 1920. [Source: middleeasteye.net]

“Jewish problem”? European Jews had experienced centuries of persecution (segregation into ghettos, abusive impositions, and pogroms) under medieval Christian European autocracies. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Jewish activists responded to the most recent pogroms and other persecutions in two opposing ways: Whereas anti-racist secularists (liberal democrats and socialists) strove, along with like-minded gentiles, for equal rights for Jews in their home countries, Zionists, defining Jewish presence in gentile countries as a “Jewish problem,”[1] embraced a racial conception of Jews and refused to do so.[2] They sought instead to remove Europe’s Jews to colonial settlements in Palestine where they intended to eventually displace the indigenous population in order to establish a “Jewish state.”[3]

Resistance to Judeophobia? Until World War II (1939-45), Zionist organizations routinely colluded with Judeophobe governments (including Nazi Germany) in facilitating Jewish removal (with preference for emigration to Palestine).[4] Moreover, in the face of extreme persecution in Nazi Germany (1933-39), the Zionist Organization (formed in 1897) discouraged efforts, as at the Évian Conference (1938), to obtain refuges for persecuted European Jews in countries (United States, Canada, Australia, Latin America, etc.) other than Palestine.

Jewish-Arab conflict. Unlike in much of Europe, Palestinian Jews (about 4% of the population in 1880) lived amicably with their Muslim and Christian neighbors until the in-migration of European Zionist colonizers in the early 20th century. Zionist settlement was sponsored by some European and American Jewish capitalists who provided money for land acquisitions (generally from absentee landlords who owned most of the arable land). The Zionists then evicted the indigenous Arab tenant farmers, thereby violating the traditional rights of the latter. Moreover, the Zionist sponsoring organization (Jewish Agency) and its landholding body (Jewish National Fund) required that Jewish employers hire only Jews and prohibited the sale of any Jewish-owned land to Arabs. Such racial discrimination was standard practice within the Zionist settlements, and it quite predictably provoked Palestinian Arab resentment against the Zionist settlers. [See UNISPAL: The Origins and Evolution of the Palestine Problem: 1917-1947 (Part I) ~ §§ V and VI]

A sepia photograph shows three elderly Jewish men sporting beards and holding open books, posing for the camera. Against a backdrop of leafy vegetation, the man in the centre sits, wearing a black hat and caftan, while the two others stand, wearing lighter clothes and turbans.
Zionist settlers in Israel during the era of the Ottoman Empire. [Source: en.wikipedia.org]

Imperialism. After other colonialist powers had turned down Zionist applications, imperial Britain decided, with its Balfour Declaration (in 1917), to sponsor the Zionist project of establishing a European Jewish colonial settler state in Palestine.[5] Britain visualized said state as developing into a useful protectorate [UNISPAL: The Origins … (Part I) ~ § II] through which to project British imperial and commercial power over a part of the world in which British capital and empire were already heavily invested (notably in the Anglo-Persian Oil Company [now BP Inc.], Shell Oil, and the Suez Canal).

Democratic governance denied. Throughout its (1917-48) rule over Palestine, Britain deferred to the Zionists by refusing to meet its obligations (pursuant to Article 22 of the League of Nations Covenant), which required the Mandatory power to respect the wishes of the country’s population and to prepare said country for independence by establishing a democratically elected representative governing body [UNISPAL: The Origins … (Part I) ~ §§ IV-IX]. Why? Because such body would undoubtedly have opposed continued moves to transform Palestine into a Zionist nation-state and would have demanded an end to unconstrained Zionist immigration, Zionist land acquisitions, evictions of Arab tenant farmers, and racially discriminatory employment practices.

Revolt. Throughout the first nearly two decades of colonial rule, Britain refused any consideration of mostly peaceful appeals and protests for redress of Palestinian grievances. When Palestinians finally lost patience and revolted (1936-39); Britain armed, trained and used Zionist militias to help put down said revolt with massively murderous violent repression, killing thousands of Palestinian Arabs. Those militias would, in 1948, be constituted as the Israeli army.

Partition [UNISPAL: The Origins and Evolution of the Palestine Problem: 1917-1947 (Part II) ~ §§ I-IV]. The then 57-member United Nations (UN), dominated mostly by European and American states ruled by white and/or Eurocentric* elites, proposed (in 1947) a partition of Palestine (by then with a population 32% Jewish and 68% Arab) such that a “Jewish state” would have 55% of the territory, a Palestinian Arab state would have 42%, and 3% around Jerusalem would be under UN administration. Moreover, the “Jewish state” was to rule over a huge Arab minority (more than 40% of Palestinian Arabs), while the “Arab state” would have almost no Jews. Representative democracy was evidently deemed unacceptable where Arabs were the majority, but acceptable where Jews (mostly recent immigrant colonists from Europe) were the majority. [* Note: Although most Latin American countries’ populations were majority non-white (Indigenous, mestizo, etc.), in most of those, the ruling elites belonged to racial groups (white and/or mestizo) which identified with their European ethnic heritage.]

Nakba [UNISPAL: The Origins … (Part II) ~ § V]. The Zionist militias waged a terrorist war of conquest through which they: massacred peaceful Palestinian villagers; seized and annexed (1947-49) half of the territory allocated by the UN for the Palestinian Arab state; and forcibly expelled more than 80% of the Palestinians (directly and/or through terrorist threat) from territory which came under Israeli control. Four Arab states intervened militarily, by using mostly ill-trained and poorly equipped military forces in ineffectual defense of the Palestinians. The Zionist state confiscated all of the properties of the expelled Palestinians (whom it barred from returning) and nearly 40% of the landholdings of the Palestinians who remained in its territory. It also subjected the latter to repressive military rule for the next 18 years.[6]

Later conquests. Israel launched surprise wars of conquest (1956 and 1967). U.S. pressure forced it to give up its 1956 conquests (Gaza and Sinai) and to abort its planned seizure of the West Bank and parts of Syria and Lebanon. U.S. acquiescence, in 1967, allowed Israel to seize much the same territories which it had wanted to annex in 1956. Subsequent Israeli rule (over Gaza, East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Syria’s Golan, and Lebanon’s Sheba’a Farms) since 1967 has subjected their Arab populations to persistent violations of human rights, continuing to the present day.

[Source: en.wikipedia.org]

Subsequent aggressions. Murderous Israeli aggressions against its neighbors (especially Syria and Lebanon) persist until the present day. In addition to repeated violations of territory, said aggressions include multiple large-scale military invasions of Lebanon. These included using a false allegation, of PLO involvement in an assassination attempt on an Israeli ambassador, as pretext for invasion and occupation (1982) of 40% of Lebanon in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to impose a subservient client regime. Death toll: Arabs (Lebanese, Palestinians, and Syrians) 14,000 to 19,000 (mostly civilians); Israelis fewer than 400 (mostly soldiers). Israel made partial withdrawals until 1985, but (despite most Palestinian resistance forces having been removed in 1982), it occupied a swath of southern Lebanon until persistent armed Lebanese resistance (by Hezbollah, Amal, and units of the Lebanese Army) induced its withdrawal (in 2000).

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Israeli troops in Lebanon, 1982. [Source: jstribune.com]

Holocaust weaponized. Ever since the Axis War (1939-45), Zionists and their supporters have manipulated popular sympathy for the Jewish victims of the European holocaust in order to obtain support for Zionism. They speak as though Jews were the only victims of the deliberate Nazi mass murder (systematic mass killing plus intentional starvation programs in occupied territory and POW camps). In fact, the actual death toll was more than 17 million (at least 11 million Slavs, some 5.9 million Jews, and probably more than 250,000 Romani). Zionists and supporters insist that the world must atone for the genocide of the six million Jews by granting them Palestine for a “Jewish state,” but they ignore the fact that justice would require any such compensation to be borne by Christian Europe, which perpetrated and/or permitted the genocide, not by the Palestinian Arabs, who had no part in it.

Anti-Semitism? Zionists and their supporters routinely attempt to silence opponents of Zionism and critics of Israeli crimes against humanity by smearing critics as purveyors of “anti-Semitism,” the word which Zionists and their allies use exclusively to mean Judeophobia (hatred of Jews), even though the Arab victims of Zionism are also Semitic in language and ancestral origin. When their critics are Jewish, as many are, Zionists routinely disparage and dismiss them as “self-hating Jews.” As Zionists obsessively smear their anti-racist critics, they generally give much less attention to actual Judeophobes. With growing popular opposition to Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people, states abetting those crimes have increasingly enacted laws criminalizing free-speech activities in support of Palestinians. Those enactments include prohibitions against boycott and divestment (BDS) participation and laws defining opposition to Zionism as “anti-Semitism,” using the Zionist IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) definition which includes, as “anti-Semitism,” opposition to the existence of Israel as a Jewish supremacist state.

HAMAS. Israel, its Western allies, and their mainstream media portray Hamas as a “genocidal” “terrorist” organization. Relevant facts, listed below, mostly go unreported, distorted, or falsified.

Origin. Hamas originated (1987) in Palestine as a transformation of Mujama al-Islamiya, which had been formed (1973) as a Palestinian affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas, unlike the Brotherhood, embraced a Palestinian national liberationist political orientation.

Governance doctrine. Like the Brotherhood, Mujama al-Islamiya adhered to a Salafist (patriarchal and theocratic) approach to governance; whereas a majority of Palestinians preferred the progressive secularism of the Palestine Liberation Organization [PLO]. However, Western alliance and Israeli motivations for condemning Hamas have nothing to do with its Salafist leanings; they are solely on account of its militant resistance to Zionist oppression of the Palestinians. In fact, Western supporters of Israel make no complaints where autocratic Arab states (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar), allied to the West, impose patriarchal and theocratic policies similar to those embraced in Brotherhood doctrine. It must be noted that Hamas’s doctrine and actual practice (since obtaining governing power) have been inconsistent. For example, in Gaza, a local faction (along with some rival Islamist groups), has periodically attempted to impose the Brotherhood interpretation of sharia law (including hijab) through religious coercions and persecutions, in defiance of the contrary policy prescribed by Hamas’s more permissive leadership. In fact, said leadership (though still embracing widely held patriarchal views on the role of women) has not decreed any such imposition.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad [PIJ]. Most commentators make no effort to recognize the differences between PIJ and Hamas. PIJ (founded 1981) is, unlike Hamas, a purely anti-colonial and anti-imperialist Palestinian national liberation organization. Whereas Hamas is a multifaceted (political, religious and social-welfare) movement; PIJ is strictly an organization of revolutionary activists. PIJ, in contradistinction to the theocratic faction in Hamas, has no interest in Islamist religious impositions; it is “Islamist” only in that it embraces the Islamic principle of struggle (jihad) against injustice. As national liberation organizations, Hamas and PIJ, though their doctrinal and strategic visions diverge, largely cooperate in the common struggle against Israeli oppression.

Muslim Brotherhood versus PLO. Gaza (along with the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Syria’s Golan, and Lebanon’s Sheba’a Farms) had been, and remain, under repressive Israeli occupation since Israel’s 1967 war of conquest. From its founding, Mujama al-Islamiya (as a Salafi Islamist organization) competed with the secular PLO for support among Palestinians, and their competition sometimes erupted into violent clashes. Israel exploited that antagonism by enabling the activities of the Islamist organization as an alternative to the far-more-popular PLO which then represented the militant Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation and persecution.

Intifada (Arabic for “uprising”). Ongoing Israeli repression (land seizures for illegal settlements, arbitrary detentions, torture of detainees, days-long curfews, indiscriminate killings, deportations, home demolitions, etc.) provoked a spontaneous mass resistance, the First Intifada (1987-93), which included strikes, boycotts, mass protests, road-blocks, use of stone-throwing and petrol bombs against Israeli police using violence to suppress protests, and other acts of civil disobedience.

Israeli government ministers responded with calls for wholesale expulsion of the Palestinian population (a policy too extreme to be condoned by Israel’s Western allies in need of credibility with Arab states). Israel’s indiscriminate intensified repression affected all Palestinians, Islamists and PLO sympathizers alike. Some leaders of Mujama al-Islamiya, concerned that inaction would render it irrelevant, decided to join that militant resistance; and they then created “Hamas” (Arabic acronym for “Islamic Resistance Movement”).

For the first year of the Intifada, there was a near-totally-adhered-to policy (prescribed by a soon-established PLO-influenced local leadership) of refraining from lethal attacks against Israelis. Nevertheless, Israel responded to the Intifada with its “iron fist” policy including lethal force, ultimately killing 1,087 Palestinians including 240 children.

Israeli soldiers and protesters in Gaza during the First Intifada in 1987. [Source: en.wikipedia.org]

Oslo peace process (1991-93). When the Fatah-dominated PLO agreed, in the Oslo negotiations, to recognize the “Jewish state” on 78% of Palestine in return for duplicitous promises of negotiations toward the establishment of a Palestinian state in the 22% of Palestine then classified as Israeli-occupied territories, it effectively abandoned the demand for the human rights of all Palestinians throughout Palestine and in the diaspora. In fact, no Israeli government has ever been willing to accept a genuinely independent and sovereign Palestinian state in any part of Palestine, or to grant equal rights to Palestinian Arabs in any part of the territory, or to permit the return of Palestinian refugees.

The Oslo agreements produced the Fatah-dominated Palestinian National Authority (PNA). a quasi-government for the West Bank and Gaza, which has devolved into a corrupted client regime with no effective capacity to prevent Israeli land grabs (which every Israeli government has actively encouraged since the 1967 conquest), and the many other persecutions of the Palestinians whom it purports to serve. The Palestinian response to Oslo was divided with Hamas and allies (including PIJ), along with some factions of the PLO, refusing to concede legitimacy to the Zionist state. Whether we like it or not, Hamas soon thereafter became the leading organized force of the Palestinian resistance (which is why it won all-Palestine legislative elections in 2006).

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Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister Shimon Peres signing the Oslo Accords with Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Chairman Yasser Arafat standing behind him on his right. Bill Clinton is behind him and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin is to Clinton’s left. [Source: la-croix.com]

Judeophobia? The U.S. and its principal allies join Israel in branding Hamas as a Jew-hating “genocidal,” “terrorist” organization. It is true that Hamas’s first Charter (1988), advocating armed struggle to liberate Palestine from Israeli occupation, embraced some discredited Judeophobe tropes (Articles 7, 22, 28, 32). However, pursuant to said Charter, Hamas “strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine [so that] followers of all religions can coexist in security and safety where their lives, possessions and rights are concerned” (Article 6); and “is guided by Islamic tolerance when dealing with the followers of other religions [which would include Christianity and Judaism]” (Article 31). Assertions, that Hamas wanted to kill all Jews or kill them because they were Jews, rest upon out-of-context interpretations of references to ancient Islamic quotations pertaining to specific Jewish communities which were then at war with the Muslim community. Moreover, its revised Charter (2017) drops the aforementioned Judeophobic tropes and clearly states (Article 16) that its fight is against Zionist oppressors and not against Jews in general. While Hamas believes that all of Palestine ought to be governed by an officially Islamic state, it embraces the Qur’anic obligation (sura 2:62) to respect the rights of peaceful non-Muslims (including resident Jews) to live and prosper in the land as long as they are not oppressing others.

“Terrorism.” Until Israeli forces killed more than 20 unarmed Palestinians protesting the Cave of the Patriarchs massacre of 29 Muslim worshipers (1994) by an Arab-hating Israeli extremist, Hamas policy was to avoid targeting Israeli civilians. Since then, Hamas, like Israel, has permitted its forces to attack any enemy target, civilian or military, whereas the Zionist state, throughout its existence, has routinely engaged in such indiscriminate killings of Palestinians. Moreover, Hamas has repeatedly offered to end violent attacks upon Israelis conditional upon Israeli reciprocation which has never been forthcoming for very long. In Israel and its Western enablers, Hamas attacks are always branded as “terrorism,” while far more massive Israeli violence against Palestinians (including unarmed civilians of both sexes and all ages) never is.

A large model of a M75 long range rocket  is seen as thousands of Hamas supporters gather during a rally in Gaza city.
Hamas rally in front of replica of rocket used to attack Israel. [Source: usatoday.com]

Equating to the Islamic State (IS) or al-Qaeda (AQ). In 2008, a small group of AQ sympathizers organized in Gaza as Jund Ansar Allah (JAA). They denounced Hamas: for being “too lenient” by not enforcing Sharia law, and for being “no different than a secular nationalist state.” JAA also executed violent attacks (including bombings) against those Gazans whom they deemed to be in violation of Islamist morality, and they declared an “Islamic Emirate” in Gaza. Hamas then took forceful action to suppress the JAA. Hamas has likewise opposed other Salafi-jihadist Gazan groups which embrace AQ or IS. Whereas AQ and IS oppose democratic elections and pragmatic political compromises, Hamas embraces them. Whereas the former make war on alleged apostates and infidels and condemn Hamas for its tolerance, Hamas, in accordance with the Qur’an, embraces (though some local supporters have sometimes acted otherwise) an acceptance of respectful religious diversity. Despite the actual facts, Israel and its apologists persist in propagating lies to equate Hamas with al-Qaeda et al.

Democracy. Hamas surprised Israel and the U.S. by fairly winning Palestinian legislative elections (January 2006) and thereby obtaining the right to lead the PNA. Obstruction by Israel and the West has prevented any subsequent Palestinian election. Israel and its Western allies responded to the 2006 election outcome by demanding that Hamas abandon its commitment to fundamental Palestinian human rights by legitimizing Israeli apartheid and ethnic cleansing.

That demand was designed to produce a Hamas refusal, so that such refusal could then be used as a pretext for acts designed to cripple Hamas efforts to govern. The U.S. then pressured PNA President Abbas (of Fatah) to dismiss the fairly elected Hamas administration in defiance of the will of the Palestinian electorate. The Hamas Prime Minister (Ismail Haniyeh) attempted to overcome the hostility by asking Fatah to participate in a unity government (which Fatah refused), and by inducing Hamas ministers to formally resign their memberships in Hamas, all to no avail. Moreover, Abbas, under U.S. pressure, provoked a power struggle (in Gaza) over control of security services in a move to undermine and marginalize the Hamas administration. The resulting violent conflict ended with Hamas firmly in control in Gaza, and with Fatah in partial control in the West Bank, most of which was and continues to be under Israeli military rule.

Peace proposals. Hamas has repeatedly (since 2006) proposed peace through hudna (Islamic decade-long renewable truce resolving issues upon which current agreement can be obtained while negotiating upon remaining issues in an effort to reach a final peace agreement). Hamas’s proposed truce terms would include provisional acceptance by Hamas of Israel as an existential current reality, in return for a Palestinian state in the Occupied Territories with East Jerusalem as its capital (same as PLO except that Hamas would not concede legitimacy to the ethnic cleansings of 1948 and 1967 nor to the racial supremacist and apartheid character of the Zionist state). Hamas would continue to seek eventual acceptance by Israel of all Palestinian civil and human rights (the effect of which would be to end its apartheid, its ethnic cleansing, its other persecutions, and its continuation as a “Jewish state”). Israel, making Hamas’s refusal to give de jure recognition of the racist apartheid “Jewish state” as its pretext, has consistently refused to negotiate toward any peace agreement.

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[Source: nytimes.com]

GAZA. Since the end of the Second Intifada (2005), Hamas has repeatedly sought and, when possible, entered cease-fire agreements with Israel. In fact, since seeking a role in government, Hamas evidently took seriously its obligation to serve the people of Palestine. Other resistance groups, often in defiance of Hamas, have sometimes committed small-scale violations of cease-fires, generally in response to Israeli violence. Whereas Hamas has striven to preserve cease-fires, Israel has repeatedly perpetrated major violations, thereby provoking resumption of violent conflict.

Israeli response to 2006 election outcome. Israel and all significant Palestinian resistance factions (including Hamas) agreed (February and March 2005) to a cease-fire under which the resistance would cease violent attacks upon Israelis on condition that Israel cease military operations against the resistance organizations. Despite Hamas having respected that cease-fire agreement, Israel responded to Hamas’s electoral victory (January 2006) by imposing, upon Gaza, a suffocating economic blockade (an act of war as well as an act of collective punishment which is illegal under international law). That blockade ultimately included denial of access to one-third of Gaza’s already limited arable land and 85% of its fishing areas. Moreover, Israel blatantly violated the cease-fire by assassinating (June 2006) the Hamas-appointed security chief (Jamal Abu Samhadana). Hamas responded by resuming attacks against Israel, which then commenced its “Operation Summer Rains” bombing of Gaza. Death toll: 416 (mostly non-combatant) Gaza Palestinians and 11 Israelis.

Will Palestinian elections result in a repeat of Hamas' 2006 victory?
Hamas supporters at politically rally before 2006 elections which Hamas won. [Source: israelhayom.com]

“Cast Lead.” A mediated six-month cease-fire ended (November 4, 2008) with an Israeli raid which killed several Palestinians in Gaza. Resistance organizations responded with rocket fire into Israel. Israel then commenced “Operation Cast Lead,” bombing Gaza in December and invading in January. Israeli war crimes included using Palestinian children as human shields and use of white phosphorus weapons with indifference to its horrific injuries to civilians (both being war crimes under international law). Amnesty International and other independent investigators found no substantiation for Israeli allegations that Hamas made a practice of using civilians as human shields, or used health-care facilities as bases for military operations. Death toll: 1,400 Palestinians (85% non-combatants), 13 Israelis.

Destroyed building in Rafah, January 12, 2009. [Source: en.wikipedia.org]
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Zuhair al-Qaisi [Source: sysoon.com]

“Returning Echo.” Israel not only refused to lift its suffocating economic siege of Gaza, it assassinated (March 9, 2012, by air strike) the secretary-general (Zuhair al-Qaisi) of the Popular Resistance Committees (then the third-largest armed resistance group in Gaza), thereby provoking retaliatory rocket attacks by resistance groups in Gaza. Israel then commenced its “Operation Returning Echo” (consisting of additional murderous air strikes). Death toll: 28 Palestinians, no Israelis.

“Pillar of defense.” Repeated Israeli attacks (from July 2012) upon Palestinian fishermen, farmers and other civilians provoked some additional clashes. Hamas and PIJ proposed (Nov 12) discussions to establish a cease-fire. Two days later, Israel assassinated Hamas’s military chief (Ahmed Jabari) in Gaza, thereby provoking an escalation of attacks from both sides. Israeli forces followed with “Operation Pillar of Defense,” a massive bombardment striking some 1,500 sites in Gaza (including residential apartment buildings). Death toll: 174 Palestinians (60% non-combatants) and six Israelis.

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Ahmed Jabari [Source: theworld.org]

“Protective Edge.” Hamas and Israel agreed to a mediated cease-fire (November 21, 2012). Israel violated that cease-fire the very next day, killing a Palestinian farmer and wounding 19 other Gazans. A week later Israeli forces opened fire on a peaceful Palestinian fishing boat. On November 30, Israeli soldiers killed another man in Gaza. On December 1, Palestinian Islamic Jihad warned that it would respond militarily to any further Israeli violations. In the first three months of the cease-fire, Israeli firing into Gaza killed four and wounded another 91; and there were 13 armed Israeli incursions into Gaza and some 30 attacks on Gazan fishermen.

These attacks provoked rocket attacks from Gaza by PIJ and other resistance groups, attacks which Israel then used as a pretext for further attacks and intensification of the blockade. Despite all of that, Hamas complied with the cease-fire agreement and acted, with some success, to minimize attacks by other resistance groups. After PNA President Abbas agreed to include Hamas in a unity government (formed June 2, 2014), Israel—opposed to any unified Palestinian leadership—acted to destroy it. Specifically, Israel stepped up its attacks upon Palestinians, thereby provoking more rocket launches from Gaza. Ultimately, Hamas, unable to persuade armed resistance forces to desist from retaliatory rocket attacks against Israel, abandoned (in early July) the already-ineffective cease-fire. Israel then responded (July 8, 2014) with its (“Operation Protective Edge”) ground invasion and bombing of Gaza. Death toll: 2,300 Gazans (65% civilian) and 73 Israelis (all but five being soldiers).

“Guardian of the Walls.” Multiple Israeli provocations (April and May 2021) in Jerusalem [including ethnic-cleansing confiscations of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem (in violation of international law), unimpeded settler violence, police harassment of Palestinian residents, and police invasions and denials of Muslim access at the Al Aqsa Mosque] provoked Hamas and PIJ rocket fire into Israel. Israel responded (May 16-21, 2021) with a bombardment of Gaza (“Operation Guardian of the Walls”). Death toll: 256 Palestinians and 13 Israelis. 72,000 Gazans were displaced by the Israeli bombing.

Scene following Israeli air strike in Operation Protective Edge. [Source: en.wikipedia.org]

“Al-Aqsa Flood.” Hamas and PIJ had demonstrated a willingness to establish and maintain truces (long-term and short-term) with the Zionist state. Israel, however, evidently expected, despite cease-fires in effect, to have impunity as it perpetrated attacks, including assassinations, upon Palestinian resistance organizations. When resistance organizations responded with counter-attacks; Israel subjected Gaza to grossly disproportionate violence. Moreover, the current extreme racist Israeli government increased its persecutions and violations of Palestinian human rights: impunity for settler attacks upon West Bank Palestinians; stepped up grabs of land and water rights; dispossessions and expulsions; arbitrary detentions; increased killings of unarmed Palestinians; blocking of Muslim access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque; continued assassinations of resistance leaders; etc. Finally, Hamas responded with its “Operation Al-Aqsa Flood” (October 7, 2023) against Israeli forces in areas around Gaza.

ATROCITIES? The nature of warfare is such that it would be unrealistic to presume that none of the October 7 Gaza fighters (some of whom were not affiliated with either Hamas or PIJ) committed excesses in violation of Hamas’s rules of engagement or in the heat of the moment. That said, lurid sensationalized allegations of mass atrocities by those Gaza fighters are fundamentally false (refuted below and in the noted sources).

Numbers and identities. “1,400” “innocent” Israelis murdered (October 7) by Hamas? In fact, around 200 of the dead were apparently Gazan resistance fighters, and the actual number of Israeli dead as acknowledged by Israel has been revised down to “around 1,200.” Moreover, of the 1,133 actually identified and listed by Israel, 369 (32%) were soldiers, police and other armed security personnel (most of whom were enforcing the Gaza blockade and/or had offensive or supportive roles in Israeli attacks upon Palestinians in Gaza). Further, at least 421 (another 37%) of the 764 listed as “civilians” were of the age (20 to 40) at which most Israelis are obligated to be military reservists, and some of those were killed (often while resisting capture) at kibbutz[es] (which are constituted as militarized settlements).

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[Source: usatoday.com]

Killed by whom? A great many of the Israeli civilian dead were killed in crossfire, others (including many of the dead at the music festival) by indiscriminate Israeli air attacks failing to distinguish Israelis from Gazan resistance fighters, and some deliberately by Israeli forces to prevent their becoming captives in Gaza.

Decapitated babies? Israeli babies and toddlers decapitated by Hamas fighters? Absolutely false allegation, subsequently retracted.

Rape? We are asked to believe that Hamas and PIJ fighters, in difficult combat against Israeli armed forces, diverted their attention in order to amuse themselves by raping and murdering Israeli women, despite the fact that their essential objective was to bring as many captives as possible back to Gaza, and that such conduct would violate the Qur’an[’s] rules mandating humane treatment of captives. Israel refuses to provide real evidence or to permit any independent investigation of this allegation. Moreover, accusers misuse photos and videos of scantily dressed female captives as “evidence,” despite that some (including many participants at the music festival) were undoubtedly thusly clothed when captured. Israel evidently is using such allegations of mass sexual abuse as a defamatory racist portrayal of Palestinians so as to excuse the very real, massive atrocities currently being perpetrated by Israel against the people of Gaza. Meanwhile, captives released by Hamas generally report having been treated humanely.

Dehumanization and genocidal intent! In their propaganda war, Israel and its Western allies evade the injustices perpetrated by the Zionist state and falsely portray Palestinian resistance fighters as genocidal Jew-hating extremists. In actual fact, it is Israeli leaders and their Western apologists who routinely dehumanize and express genocidal intentions (including for ethnic cleansing and mass murder), not only against those who fight, but against an entire victimized population. Some examples:

  • Soon-to-be-appointed Israeli Justice Minister, Ayelet Shaked, endorsed (summer 2015) an Israeli writer’s statement asserting that Israel is in a war, “not against terror,” but “a war between two peoples,” the “enemy” being “the entire Palestinian people”; that Palestinian children are “snakes”; and that “the mothers” also should die to prevent their raising more “little snakes.
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Ayelet Shaked [Source: mondoweiss.net]
  • Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, in his guidance for Israeli action in the current outbreak of violence, twice referenced (October 28 and November 3) a biblical passage (about the Israelite war against the people of Amalek) which states “Spare no one, but kill alike men and women, infants and sucklings.
  • Israeli President Isaac Herzog asserted (October 12) “It’s an entire nation…that is responsible [for October 7].”
  • Defense Minister Yoav Gallant stated (October 9) that Israel was “imposing a complete siege on Gaza. No electricity, no food, no water, no fuel.…We are fighting human animals and we are acting accordingly.
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Yoav Gallant, center, with IDF troops. [Source: msn.com]
  • Minister of Heritage Amichai Eliyahu posted (November 1) “The north of the Gaza Strip, more beautiful than ever. Everything is blown up and flattened, simply a pleasure for the eyes.
  • Deputy Speaker of the Knesset Nissim Vaturi “tweeted” (October 7) “we all have one common goal—erasing the Gaza Strip from the face of the earth.”
  • Minister of Agriculture Avi Dichter stated (November 11) “[w]e are now actually rolling out the Gaza Nakba.
A person in a suit and tie

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Avi Dichter [Source: jpost.com]
  • Former Head of the Israeli National Security Council Major General Giora Eiland said (October 7) “The people should be told that they have two choices; to stay and to starve, or to leave. If Egypt and other countries prefer that these people will perish in Gaza, this is their choice.” He later asserted (November 6) that there should be no distinction between Hamas combatants and Palestinian civilians, saying: “‘They’ are not only Hamas fighters with weapons, but also all the ‘civilian’ officials, including hospital administrators and school administrators, and also the entire Gaza population.
  • One former Knesset member called for all Palestinians in Gaza to be killed, saying: “I tell you, in Gaza without exception, they are all terrorists, sons of dogs. They must be exterminated, all of them killed.
  • South Africa’s indictment lists several additional such comments by Israeli leaders.
  • When a group of Israeli soldiers and settlers assaulted three Palestinians in the West Bank (October 12), the three were beaten, stripped naked, bound, tortured, and urinated upon. Such abuse was nothing new. During the First Intifada (1987-93), this kind of humiliation by Israeli forces was routine. Men would be threatened with the rape of their wives or sisters; women would be threatened with sexual violence.
  • In response to Al-Aqsa Flood, multiple U.S. political leaders have urged genocide against Gaza: U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) urged (October 10 on Fox News) “level the place”; U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) wrote on social media (October 9) “Israel must respond disproportionately”; and then-U.S. Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley (October 7 or 8 on Fox News) urged Israel to “finish them,” meaning the Palestinians. Although U.S. President Biden and his aides have not made such extreme public statements, his actual policy has been to abet those genocidal actions.

Israel’s “Arab problem.” Despite Netanyahu’s denial, Israel’s policy vis-à-vis Palestinians (whether in Israel, the West Bank, or Gaza) is to make their conditions as oppressive as possible (within the limits to which its Western allies will acquiesce) so that Palestinians will migrate to other countries. That is in accordance with Zionist prescriptions, from the time of Herzl (1890s),[7] to solve the “Arab problem” through “population transfer” (that is, ethnic cleansing).

Media bias. In the first days after October 7, the Western mainstream media focused almost exclusively upon grieving Israelis. It was only after the killings, destruction and extreme suffering in Gaza became so unavoidably blatant and massive that it began reporting on that. The racist anti-Palestinian bias of the Western mainstream media is exemplified by its response to reports of the three Hamas-captured Israeli men (shirtless, hands raised, holding a white flag of truce, and speaking Hebrew) nevertheless killed (December 15) by trigger-happy Israeli soldiers. That was treated as a horrific tragedy, but there was no thought to question, with Israeli soldiers acting that way toward captured Israelis, how do they act toward unarmed Palestinians.

Biden’s humanitarian concerns. U.S. President Biden (along with most congressional Democrats) expresses lip-service concern regarding Israel’s mass murder of tens of thousands of Gaza Palestinians (no more than 3% of whom could be armed resistance fighters). Biden could force a stop to it by supporting deployment of neutral UN peace-keepers into appropriate locations in Gaza, with U.S. guarantees of their safety, to protect hospitals, schools, desalination plants, sewage treatment facilities, humanitarian aid shipments, food and water dispensers, and UNRWA relief operations. It is highly likely that Hamas, et al., would welcome the introduction of such humanitarian intervenors as long as they are truly neutral. Meanwhile, for Israel to attack them would put it in armed conflict with the U.S. (and its allies) upon which it is extremely dependent. Instead of intervening in any real way to save lives in Gaza, Biden shows his true colors by sending munitions to Israel, by demanding billions of dollars for more no-strings military aid to the Zionist state, and by vetoing near-unanimous UN demands for a cease-fire.

A group of bombs on a runway

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Missiles headed to Israel. [Source: arabobserver.com]


The conflict. The Zionists (seeking to build and expand their racist colonial settler state) and their imperial Western allies (serving the selfish interests of their war industries and other profit-producing commercial entities with interests in the region) have subjected the Palestinian Arabs to a century of systematic subjugation and persecution. The Zionists’ ultimate applicable objective is to eliminate the threat to Zionist Jewish supremacy by removing most of the indigenous Palestinian population through expulsion and mass murder whenever they can find pretexts acceptable to Western allies, and by making life so difficult for Palestinians that they will choose to migrate.

Systematic oppression always provokes resistance by the oppressed (including violent resistance when peaceful appeals prove futile), and the responses by Palestinians are no exception. The Zionist state has always responded to that resistance (even peaceful protests) with repressive violence, attempting to bludgeon the Palestinians into passive acceptance of their Zionist-intended fate. That fate? To be treated as subhuman, to be massacred, to be permanently expelled from their homeland, to be robbed of their property, to be denied their right to equal civil rights and democratic self-government, and (for those allowed at least temporarily to remain in Palestine) to be exploited as cheap labor to perform work which Israelis choose to avoid.

End. This conflict and the inevitable resulting violence will not end until Israel has eliminated nearly the entire remaining Palestinian population; or its Western abettors have been compelled (by organized popular pressure) to cease enabling it by funding and arming the Zionist state, preventing Israel from being held accountable for its crimes, and refusing to intervene in support of the victimized Palestinian population.

  1. Howard M. Sachar, A History of Israel: From the Rise of Zionism to Our Time (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1979).

  2. Lenni Brenner, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators (New York: Lawrence Hill Books, 1993).

  3. Benny Morris, 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008).

  4. Brenner, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators, ch. 5, 6, 7, 12.

  5. Sachar, A History of Israel, 96-109.

  6. Sachar, A History of Israel, 386-89.

  7. Morris, 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War.

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About the Author


  1. Should the anti-imperialist left back Biden in November? The liberal “left” joins the Democratic Party leadership in saying that it is a choice between “fascism” and “democracy”. But with Biden demanding increased militarism, pressing his new cold wars against Russia and China, suffocating Cuba and Venezuela with economic sieges, abetting genocide in Gaza, and so forth; is it? For comment/analysis, see my short piece: Biden in November? No antifascist savior of “democracy”! (Dissident Voice, 2024 Mar 29) @ https://dissidentvoice.org/2024/03/biden-in-november/ .

  2. I see that you have been doing a lot of research and study on Jewish history. If you are interested in improving your knowledge and understanding of Jewish History, I recommend that you watch all the You Tube videos of Dr. Henry Abramson. He is the foremost expert on Israel and Jewish history and is a highly respected University Professor. After listening to all his videos your knowledge will be improved.

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