Stop the massacre in Gaza

by our Arab Affairs correspondent

ISRAELI warplanes are hammering Gaza in a new anti-Arab offensive that has claimed the lives of 205 Palestinians and left more than 1,500 injured. Most of the casualties, some 80 per cent according to the Gazan health service, have been civilians.

The UN Security Council has unanimously called for ceasefire and respect for “international humanitarian laws,” voicing “serious concern” over the “protection and welfare of civilians” during Israeli airstrikes in Gaza. But US imperialism has given its full support to Israel’s new round of aggression, saying Tel Aviv has a right to “defend itself”. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said on Monday that there was no evidence that Israel is using disproportionate force in the coastal enclave.

Thousands of Gazans have fled their homes amid a relentless and indiscriminate Israeli bombing campaign, which began last week as a reprisal for the murder of three teenagers from Zionist settler families, has now escalated into open confrontation with daily air-raids and missile attacks on the densely populated Gaza Strip.

Israel claims that the killings were carried out by supporters of Hamas, the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood that controls the Gaza Strip. But Hamas has denied any hand in the killings, which were followed by the brutal revenge murder of a Palestinian youth in East Jerusalem burned alive by a Zionist settler gang who have been arrested by the Israeli authorities.

Hamas is responding with rocket and mortar attacks on Israeli towns and settlements that have been largely ineffectual because their home-made missiles lack sophisticated guidance systems. Israel’s US-supplied rocket and missile defence systems have, so far, intercepted these rockets over their major cities.

But their salvoes, some 700 in the past week, have hit targets across the border and others have been aimed at Tel Aviv, Haifa and the Israeli nuclear weapons centre in Dimona, spreading panic throughout Israel. One Israeli has been killed and others injured by the Hamas missiles while the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (General Command) and other Palestinian resistance movements based in Syria claim that their guerrillas have killed four Israelis and wounded 150 more in attacks inside the occupied territories.

The Gaza Strip is just 51 km long and 11 km wide and home to 1,816,379 people — mostly refugees or descendants of refugees driven out of Israel during the first Arab-Israeli war (1948-1949). Nearly 45 per cent of the population is under 14 years of age.

Egyptian attempts to broker a ceasefire collapsed on Tuesday after Hamas complained that it had not been invited to the talks, which seem to have only involved Egypt and Israel and as the fighting intensifies there are growing fears that the Zionists will soon send their army into the Gaza Strip to try and give Hamas a punishment beating and boost the Netanyahu government’s popularity with his rabid settler supporters. Across the Arab world support for the Palestinians is growing. Algeria’s World Cup football team has donated all of the estimated $9 million bonus they received as valiant losers in the round of 16 to the people of Gaza. Team star Islam Slimani said: “They need it more than us.”

In Syria, the ruling National Progressive Front, which includes the Baath and the two Syrian communist parties, said the war was against the Palestinian resistance which Syria had always supported. The Front said the new Israeli aggression ties in with “the greater conspiracy” against the Arabs and it denounced the half-hearted attitude of some Arab regimes towards the aggression “who either have kept silent or talked something that is closer to useless nonsense”.

The Front called upon the Arab nation to mobilise all its forces, active parties and popular movements to quickly and effectively move to create a wide front that is aimed at putting an end to the Israeli aggression on Gaza.

And this week the New Communist Party of Britain endorsed a joint statement condemning the barbaric and criminal assault of the state of Israel against the Palestinian people that was signed by 53 communist and workers’ parties, including the communist parties of Algeria, Bahrain, Jordan, Palestine, Syria and Sudan.